MTConnect

MTConnect is an open, royalty-free standard that is intended to foster greater interoperability between devices and software applications. By establishing an open and extensible channel of communication for plug-and-play interconnectivity between devices, equipment and systems, MTConnect allows sources to exchange and understand each other’s data. This common communication is facilitated by XML and HTTP technology to provide real-time data throughout a factory. This common communication empowers software developers to implement applications aimed at providing more efficient operations, improved production optimization and increased productivity.

The Need
In 2009, experts with the Association of Management Technologies (AMT) asserted the need for machine tools and other types of computerized manufacturing equipment to readily communicate critical data in a standard format. They said that unless this was done the industry would not be able to automate rapidly enough to keep up with global demands. Integration on the shop floor would be difficult or impossible. Progress in productivity gains and cost reductions would be stymied.

The Benefits
MTConnect establishes specifications for formatting, tagging and transmitting data generated by a processor on a piece of equipment. It also specifies a data format that describes what data is available, along with the structure of the device. This enables the devices and applications to know the capabilities of the machine and automatically recognize what data can be communicated. MTConnect does not instruct on how the data might be used. It is up to developers and end users to determine what data to use and how to use it. MTConnect simply makes the data accessible in a neutral format. MTConnect is not software, but a standard designed to make it easier for devices and systems to talk to each other. What software running on those devices or systems does with the data is left to the ingenuity of developers. With MTConnect, interfacing computerized manufacturing equipment to monitoring systems or to systems that let machines and accessories interact becomes very nearly a "plug-and-produce" scenario.

The Results
The first public demonstration of MTConnect occurred at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) held in Chicago, Illinois September 2008. There, 25 industrial equipment manufacturers networked their machinery control systems, providing process information that could be retrieved from any web-enabled client connected to the network.

Subsequent demonstrations occurred at EMO (The European International Machine Tool Show) in Milan, Italy in October 2009, and the 2010 IMTS in Chicago.

To read about how various companies have used MTConnect, follow the links below: