Connected Machines in the Smart Factory

By: Patrick Waurzyniak, Manufacturing Engineering Magazine – October 28, 2015

It seems like everyone is getting into the digital manufacturing game, with smarter software, intelligent machines and über-connected equipment, all part of the huge push toward leveraging the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and the constant flow of manufacturing Big Data metrics and information coming off the factory floor.

Digital manufacturing itself is not a radically new concept, as the inventive folks at PLM software developers can readily tell you. PLM software from Dassault Systèmes and Siemens PLM can digitally design and layout out factories with virtual commissioning of robots and equipment on the factory floor—without ever touching the physical equivalents on the plant floor.

This week machine tool builder Mazak Corp. (Florence, KY) announced it has teamed up with networking giant Cisco Systems (San Jose, CA) and Memex Inc. (Burlington, ON, Canada), developer of the MERLIN (Manufacturing Execution Realtime Lean Information Network) manufacturing execution system software. Mazak’s new SmartBox platform uses MTConnect technology in a system that features Cisco’s Ethernet switching hardware and Memex’s real-time factory-floor data-monitoring solution to feed a nearly instant flow of manufacturing data to the people that need that critical information the most.

Another interesting development came about last month as manufacturing giant GE joined forces with CAD/CAM and PLM developer PTC (Needham, MA) in an alliance that melds GE’s Brilliant Manufacturing Suite of “smart” software with PTC’s ThingWorx IIoT platform.

GE’s Brilliant Manufacturing Suite (BMS), currently undergoing testing at key customer sites, will bring together disparate systems from the shop floor to enterprise resource planning (ERP) software into a multi-module system with dashboards for manufacturing analytics including OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) metrics.

“The Brilliant Factory integrates engineering and manufacturing design, leverages data to run our factories much more productively, and optimizes the entire supply chain,” said Jamie Miller, GE CIO, in a statement. “This solution gives us the ability to see that data clearly and easily in a format that makes critical decisions possible, so we can increase machine uptime and predict maintenance before it is needed.”

Long-time partners GE and PTC are working together to certify ThingWorx for GE’s Predix ecosystem, a cloud-based Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) software environment for IIoT applications. BMS leverages the ThingWorx technology with GE’s software suite that includes role-based manufacturing dashboards with real-time manufacturing KPIs (key performance indicators); standardized KPI models for all plants, connecting to heterogeneous landscapes; collaboration, alerts, notifications and access to actionable data to make better-informed decisions.

The software suite is part of the new GE Digital group that GE announced Sept. 14 integrating GE’s Software Center, the global IT and commercial software teams, and the industrial security strength of Wurldtech, headed up by Bill Ruh, chief digital officer.

To see the full article, please click here.

Mazak puts high-tech prowess on display, launches SmartBox

By: Sarah Webster, Manufacturing Engineering – October 28, 2015

Florence, KY – As many as 3,000 visitors were expected at Mazak Corp.’s DISCOVER 2015 fall event, where the machine tool builder showcased its growing product line as well as its new SmartBox technology – the result of a new partnership with networking leader Cisco and machine-to-machine technology provider Memex Inc.

In all, more than 30 machines and manufacturing technologies were on display, including the Integrex i-400AM, a hybrid additive-subtractive machine, and the new Mazatrol SmoothG CNC, both of which were being shown for the first time in North America.

During a media breakfast on the first day of the event, which runs from Oct. 27 through Nov. 5, Tomohisa Yamazaki, President of the Japan-based Yamazaki Mazak Corp., also announced that the US production facility would begin manufacturing the VCL-T100. That fiber laser machine is sold by Mazak Optonics, the company’s industrial laser division.

Mazak Optonics President Al Bohlen told Manufacturing Engineering that US production will help satisfy fabrication customers more quickly.

The move showcases Mazak’s commitment to its US facility, which has been in operation since 1974 and, after multiple expansions, is now 800,000 square feet spread over multiple buildings along the rolling hillside. The added production will also help Mazak rationalize that manufacturing capacity as the machine tool market in the US has been soft. Through August, US manufacturing technology orders are down 10%, according to AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology.

Mazak has distinguished itself in this market as a premium technology leader, and Mazak Corp. President Brian Papke told media that the company is “financially health and rock solid.”

Mazak and Papke were early supporters of MTConnect, an open source communications language for machines that launched in 2008. That standard, as well as competing proprietary standards, allow for the collection of data, which can then be analyzed through software, and eases the way for machines to communicate with each other, creating smart factories that are far more productive and efficient.

While AMT, the federal government and industry advocates believe these new digital technologies could vastly improve national manufacturing competitiveness, actual adoption has been slow, especially among the small and medium manufacturers which make up about 80% of the US manufacturing market.

Concerns about Internet security, the complexity of execution, and a gap in understanding about the potential benefits of a more digital manufacturing approach, are thought to be slowing adoption.

SmartBox aims to help resolve several of those concerns, especially as they relate to security and simplicity of adoption.

The SmartBox device is literally a box that mounts on the side of a machine and uses a ruggedized, high-bandwidth Cisco Industrial Ethernet (IE) 4000 switch. The box serves as a simple factory networking hub with unique computing hardware and software for an industrial environment, including an MTConnect software agent. It allows a wide range of off-the-shelf sensors to gather data and feed into the network through simple ports.

SmartBox has a special dual design to prevent any issues with unauthorized access from both directions, to or from the machines and equipment within a network. It also helps IT technicians easily manage network security.

Importantly, the SmartBox uses a fog computing model. Just like a fog is a low-hanging cloud, fogging is a selective computing structure that essentially keeps cloud computing closer to the enterprise.

Rather than send all data collected off manufacturing machines to a cloud-based service for analysis, so-called fogging reduces the amount of data being transmitted outside of an enterprise, keeping much of this computing activity on a smart networked computing device, such as the SmartBox, and selectively sharing data on a cloud.

Mazak’s SmartBox is integrated with Memex software, which transforms the collected data into dashboards that show and track Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and other metrics, such as downtime.

During a presentation to attendees, Bryce Barnes, Sr. Manager of Global Machine and Robot Segment, Internet of Things Business Unit, Cisco, said digitizing manufacturing operations is about more than getting alerts about machines on a cell phone. He said the digital movement in manufacturing will allow manufacturing to seriously optimize productivity and resource use, and, ultimately, to rethink manufacturing at large.

“It’s going to become cool again to work in manufacturing,” Barnes said. “It’s the integration of the virtual and real.”

Ben Schawe, Vice President of Manufacturing at Mazak, also showed attendees how the machine tool builder executed SmartBox in its own facility, with the Memex dashboard tools, to visualize and improve its own utilization rates. He said the factory was surprised how much low-hanging fruit was found for improvement after Mazak started collecting and seeing its performance firsthand.

AMT President Doug Woods, who attended the event, told ME that manufacturers who don’t move in this digital direction will be challenged to compete against those who do adopt. He said he was delighted to see more mainstream technology products moving into the space to help improve understanding.

To see the full article, please click here.

Cisco Partners with Mazak and MEMEX to Connect Machines

Cisco Blog, written by Bryce Barnes – October 27, 2015

At the Mazak Discover Conference being held in Kentucky this week, I have the honor presenting daily keynotes during one of the largest industrial user events. It is an exciting week, as we are announcing an industry-shaping collaboration with Mazak Corporation, a global leader in the design and manufacture of machine tools, and MEMEX who provides an industrial Internet communications platform for machine-monitoring. Called a “SmartBox,” this technology will enable real-time manufacturing data and analytics from Mazak machines to significantly improve machine efficiency (OEE) for Mazak’s manufacturing customers. .

The SmartBox is a component within Mazak’s iSMART Factory concept and takes advantage of our Cisco Connected Machines solution to provide insights into machine operations. Using a fog computing model, manufacturing data is gathered via the MTConnect protocol. MT Connect software agents run directly on our ruggedized, industry-leading Cisco Industrial Ethernet (IE) 4000 switch – providing real-time visibility and insights into data right on the factory floor.  In addition to switching and compute capabilities, we are also embedding network level security to help prevent any issues with unauthorized access to or from the machines and equipment within a network. Take a look at this video on the Cisco IE4000 switch for more detail:

So far, the feedback I have been receiving at this show has been overwhelming- customers feel that this solution will provide immense value to their manufacturing operations. Mazak and customers will be now fully aware of program stops, feed holds, spindle overrides, tool changes, and other reasons why a machine is idle. By analyzing this data, manufacturing personnel are able to identify and easily fix downtime-related inefficiencies to improve overall equipment utilization. Moreover, this new iSmart solution attaches to any Mazak machine or even a competitor’s machine, regardless of machine type, model, or age so not only is the entire installed base of Mazak machines potential candidates for the SmartBox connected machine upgrade, so is any other machine in a factory! Bottom line, Mazak’s SmartBox fundamentally changes their customer experience driving even more value as customers move towards connected factories.bryce IMG_1168

This is great example of how we are working with our ecosystem of partners to help customers capture the value of digitization. Our scalable and secure IoT platform makes it possible for partners to quickly launch new IoT offerings that provide high-value customer experiences and business outcomes. We’re helping our OEM partners transform their business from selling products to selling more industrial services as Bryan Tantzen points out in his blog “Connected Machines: Reducing Unplanned Downtime and Improving Service

To see the full blog post, please click here.

MEMEX enters Mazak VIP program, racks up triple digit sales for MERLIN

Industrial Times, October 2015.

Proven in single and multi-plant installations across North America, MEMEX’s MERLIN communications platform is an industrial strength shop-floor-to-top-floor communications platform that provides efficiency metrics in real time.  Specifically, the MERLIN value proposition:

  • Delivers a 10% – 50% average productivity increase
  • Earns 20% plus profit improvement based on just a 10% increase in Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)
  • Consistently achieves payback in less than 4 months with an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) greater than 300%
  • Connects to any machine, old or new, utilizing native MTConnect or hardware adapters for older machines

MERLIN market traction catapulted MEMEX’s revenue by 155% year over year for the third quarter of 2015, and 97% for the first nine months ending June 30, 2015.

MEMEX also has a new strategic partnership with Mazak.  Mazak has named MEMEX to its exclusive Value Inspired Partner (VIP) program.  The announcement comes at a time when Mazak is paving the way in digital resource productivity vi its iSMART Factory concept, an all-encompassing vision that harnesses the power of connectivity to optimize manufacturing operations at every level.

Mazak selects VIP partners that share its same forward-thinking approach to manufacturing.  According to Brian Papke, president of Mazak, MEMEX makes the perfect VIP because Mazak knows first-hand how the company can create factories of the future today.

To see the full article, please click here.

Memex makes the news in Bulgaria!

October 22, 2015

Mazak, Cisco и доставчикът на M2M (machine-to-machine) решения Memex представиха разработена съвместно платформа, предназначена за “включване към Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)” с висока степен на защита.
Технологията, наречена SmartBox, предоставя достъп до данните за производство в реално време и се използва с цел подобряване на общата производителност и бърза реакция при пазарни и клиентски промени. Като използва MTConnect технология като основа, SmartBox свръзаността на машини и устройства позволява подобрен контрол и редица възможности за интелигентен мониторинг и анализ, включително усъвършенствана киберзащита.
SmartBox е един от компонентите на концепцията iSMART Factory на Mazak, която използва решенията на Cisco за машиностроенето, за да предоставя подробна вътрешна информация за функционирането на машинните. SmartBox може да работи с всяка машина независимо от марка, модел или възраст и се предлага в различни конфигурации и комплекти. Устройството се монтира физически отстрани на машините, без да се свързва в корпуса.
To see the full article, please click here.

Burlington firm joins in a collaborative partnership with two heavyweights in manufacturing and communications

October 21, 2015

Memex, a Burlington company that got a loan from the federal government to expand its operation is now part of it collaborative partnership that has joined with two very large corporations to make greater use of The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

The Internet of Things, known as IIoT, has been bubbling away in the background for some time – it is now very real for MEMEX who have partnered with the Mazak Corporation and Cisco to showcase MERLIN software from MEMEX Inc.

The Internet of Things basically gives anything an internet address – which becomes the communications backbone that moves information in real time.

The collaborative platform called SmartBox, developed by Mazak, is an industry-first launch platform for easy and highly secure entrance into the Industrial Internet of Things. SmartBox builds on MEMEX’s strategic partnership with Mazak Corp., which earlier this year named MEMEX to its exclusive Value Inspired Partner (VIP) program.

What follows is pretty technical and won’t mean much to most people – but it is very relevant to the economy the city wants to develop. This technology results in those high-tech, high paying jobs the city wants to attract.

“The SmartBox collaboration realizes the IIoT vision on the factory floor,” said MEMEX’s CEO David McPhail. “We’re thrilled to be participating in this powerful combination with Mazak and Cisco. As well as MERLIN software, we are contributing our easy-to-deploy Ax760 hardware adapters to SmartBox. They enable every machine on the shop floor, old or new, to become web servers that utilize the MTConnect® manufacturing communication standard.”

Using MTConnect® as its foundation, SmartBox connectivity of machines and devices allows for enhanced monitoring and analytical capabilities including advanced cyber security protection. SmartBox represents a huge leap in digital integration across manufacturing.

“With the development of SmartBox, Mazak continues to drive toward its iSMART Factory concept and connecting today’s shops to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to achieve levels of efficiency and productivity never before realized,” said Brian Papke, President of Mazak. “And while our concept centers around open connectivity and the Internet, we at Mazak believe it is our moral obligation to also provide customers the highest level of security possible with SmartBox. As with all the technology we develop, Mazak has first implemented SmartBox into our own operations before expecting customers to wholeheartedly embrace the system.”

Mazak developed SmartBox to work with any machine regardless of make, model or age and will offer it in various configurations/kits based on the scenarios and challenges in which the units will be used. The device physically mounts to the side of machines without having to integrate into a machine’s electrical cabinet. With several standard input/output connecting ports, SmartBox lets users quickly and easily connect any standard off-the-shelf sensors to the system for machine data gathering and condition monitoring. One SmartBox may service several machine tools along with other associated manufacturing equipment, depending on the application.

At the heart of SmartBox is Cisco’s Connected Machines solution, based on the IoT System, designed specifically for industrial environments and equipped with an MTConnect software agent. Using a fog computing model, MTConnect runs directly on the ruggedized Cisco Industrial Ethernet (IE) 4000 switch, providing MERLIN software’s real-time visibility and insights into data right on the factory floor.

MEMEX’s MERLIN software installed in Mazak’s factory allows for monitoring analytics of machines, test stands and other equipment within the plant. The Cisco hardware is designed to help prevent any issues with unauthorized access from both directions – to or from the machines and equipment within a network. SmartBox satisfies the highly critical security concerns of IT departments when connecting legacy equipment to a plant’s main network for the purpose of gathering manufacturing data via the MTConnect protocol.

MEMEX Inc. is a leading Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology platform provider that connects to any machine and delivers real-time manufacturing productivity metrics. Industrial strength MERLIN software provides Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) efficiency metrics in real time, from shop floor to top floor. MERLIN connects to any machine, old or new, utilizing MTConnect, other protocols or hardware adapters.

The MERLIN magic delivers a 10% to 50% average productivity increase so that any manufacturer can achieve world-class standards of excellence. Based on just a 10% increase in OEE, customers see profit improvements of 20%-plus and payback in less than four months.

What does all this mean to Burlington?

During the federal election Prime Minister Harper announced that an Advanced Manufacturing Hub would be built in the city – tied in in some way to McMaster University’s de Groote campus on the south Service Road.

Dave McPhail works assiduously developing relationships – he has been working on a collaborative approach with Cisco for some time – that seems to have worked out well for the company.

Mike Wallace took part in an announcement that put a cheque for $899,000 on the table allowing MEMEX to expand their operations in Burlington. So far that federal loan appears to be doing what it was intended to do.

To see the full article, please click here.

Memex’s Merlin shopfloor communications platform is a fundamental part of Mazak’s iSmart Factory concept.

By: Jedd Cole, Modern Machine Shop – October 19, 2015

Memex Inc. (Burlington, Ontario) is partnering with machine tool manufacturer Mazak Corp. (Florence, Kentucky) as part of the latter’s Value Inspired Partner (VIP) program. As a VIP, Memex will participate in Mazak’s iSmart Factory concept by allowing Mazak to monitor its overall equipment effectiveness metrics in real time. The MTConnect open communications protocol used by Mazak works in conjunction with Memex’s Merlin communications platform to harvest data from various production floor machines, cells, devices and processes.

In other news, Memex is reporting record sales growth for the Merlin platform. The company says its revenue increased 155 percent year-over-year for the third quarter of 2015.

 “The concept of data-driven manufacturing and Merlin’s new branding and value proposition are resonating well with new customers and the follow-up Merlin plant expansion plans of our existing customers,” says David McPhail, president and CEO.

To see the full article, please click here.

Mazak SmartBox launches manufacturers into the IIoT

October 19, 2015

In an industry-shaping collaboration, Mazak Corporation, together with information technology (IT) leader Cisco and machine-to-machine solutions provider MEMEX, Inc., have developed what is described as an industry first – a “launch platform for easy and highly secure entrance into the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).” Called SmartBox, this technology represents a huge leap in digital integration across manufacturing. Access to real-time manufacturing data is used to improve overall productivity and responsiveness to customer/market changes. Using MTConnect technology as the foundation, SmartBox connectivity of machines and devices allows for enhanced monitoring and analytical capabilities including advanced cyber security protection.

Mazak is showcasing the SmartBox technology during its DISCOVER 2015 Technology and Education Event, held October 27-29 and November 3-5 at its North American Manufacturing Headquarters. The power of SmartBox will be demonstrated in one of the automated cells as part of the company’s own manufacturing operations. Each of the cell’s four machines are outfitted with a SmartBox and sensor array package, giving event attendees a firsthand look at the device in action within an actual manufacturing environment and network.

The SmartBox is yet another component within Mazak’s dynamic iSMART Factory concept and one that takes advantage of Cisco’s Connected Machines solution to provide insights into machine operations. Advanced manufacturing cells and systems, along with full digital integration, can achieve free-flow data sharing, i.e., process control and operation/equipment monitoring. The iSMART concept also incorporates Mazak’s SMOOTH Technology – a complete process-performance technology platform that includes the various levels of Mazak’s new Mazatrol Smooth CNC with advanced machine hardware and servo systems – working in tandem with the MTConnect standard connectivity protocol.

Mazak also developed SmartBox to work with any machine regardless of make, model or age and will offer it in various configurations/kits based on the scenarios and challenges in which the units will be used. The device physically mounts to the side of machines without having to integrate into a machine’s electrical cabinet. With several standard input/output connecting ports, SmartBox lets users quickly and easily connect any standard off-the-shelf sensors to the system for machine data gathering and condition monitoring. One SmartBox may service several machine tools along with other associated manufacturing equipment, depending on the application.

At the heart of the SmartBox is Cisco’s Connected Machines solution, based on the IoT System, designed specifically for industrial environments and equipped with an MTConnect software agent. Using a fog computing model, the MT Connect software runs directly on the ruggedized Cisco Industrial Ethernet (IE) 4000 switch – providing real time visibility and insights into data right on the factory floor.

The Memex software installed in Mazak’s own factory allows for monitoring analytics of machines, test stands and other equipment within the plant. The Cisco hardware is designed to help prevent any issues with unauthorized access from both directions – to or from the machines and equipment within a network. SmartBox satisfies the highly critical security concerns of IT departments when connecting legacy equipment to a plant’s main network for the purpose of gathering manufacturing data via the MTConnect protocol.

“With the development of SmartBox, Mazak continues to drive toward its iSMART Factory concept and connecting today’s shops to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to achieve levels of efficiency and productivity never before realized,” said Mr Brian Papke, President of Mazak Corporation. “And while our concept centers around open connectivity and the Internet, we at Mazak believe it is our moral obligation to also provide customers the highest level of security possible with SmartBox. As with all the technology we develop, Mazak has first implemented SmartBox into our own operations before expecting customers to wholeheartedly embrace the system.”

The underlying Cisco networking platform helps ensure that IT technicians will be familiar with SmartBox’s operation and can use it to quickly and easily control and manage network security. Also, the hardware allows manufacturers to enable secure machine communications through secure access and identity policy mechanisms. Third parties, such as equipment suppliers, can then log on to a company’s network and access only those machines equipped with a Mazak SmartBox.

“This is great example of how Cisco works with our ecosystem of partners to help customers capture the value of digitization,” said Tony Shakib, Vice President, Vertical Solutions, at Cisco. “Cisco’s scalable and secure IoT platform makes it possible for partners like Mazak and MEMEX to quickly launch new IoT offerings that provide high-value customer experiences and business outcomes. We’re helping our OEM partners transform their business from selling products to selling industrial services.”

To see the full article, please click here.

Cisco and MEMEX Collaborate with Mazak to Develop Mazak SmartBox to Launch Manufacturers into the IIoT

By: Chantal Polsonetti in Industrial Internet of Things – October 16, 2015.

In an industry-shaping collaboration, Mazak Corporation, together with information technology (IT) leader Cisco and machine-to-machine solutions provider MEMEX, Inc., have developed what is described as an industry first – a “launch platform for easy and highly secure entrance into the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).” Called SmartBox, this technology represents a huge leap in digital integration across manufacturing. Access to real-time manufacturing data is used to improve overall productivity and responsiveness to customer/market changes. Using MTConnect technology as the foundation, SmartBox connectivity of machines and devices allows for enhanced monitoring and analytical capabilities including advanced cyber security protection.

Mazak is showcasing the SmartBox technology during its DISCOVER 2015 Technology and Education Event, held October 27-29 and November 3-5 at its North American Manufacturing Headquarters. The power of SmartBox will be demonstrated in one of the automated cells as part of the company’s own manufacturing operations. Each of the cell’s four machines are outfitted with a SmartBox and sensor array package, giving event attendees a firsthand look at the device in action within an actual manufacturing environment and network.

The SmartBox is yet another component within Mazak’s dynamic iSMART Factory concept and one that takes advantage of Cisco’s Connected Machines solution to provide insights into machine operations. Advanced manufacturing cells and systems, along with full digital integration, can achieve free-flow data sharing, i.e., process control and operation/equipment monitoring. The iSMART concept also incorporates Mazak’s SMOOTH Technology – a complete process-performance technology platform that includes the various levels of Mazak’s new Mazatrol Smooth CNC with advanced machine hardware and servo systems – working in tandem with the MTConnect standard connectivity protocol.

Mazak also developed SmartBox to work with any machine regardless of make, model, or age and will offer it in various configurations/kits based on the scenarios and challenges in which the units will be used. The device physically mounts to the side of machines without having to integrate into a machine’s electrical cabinet. With several standard input/output connecting ports, SmartBox lets users quickly and easily connect any standard off-the-shelf sensors to the system for machine data gathering and condition monitoring. One SmartBox may service several machine tools along with other associated manufacturing equipment, depending on the application.

At the heart of the SmartBox is Cisco’s Connected Machines solution, based on the IoT System, designed specifically for industrial environments and equipped with an MTConnect software agent. Using a fog computing model, the MT Connect software runs directly on the ruggedized Cisco Industrial Ethernet (IE) 4000 switch, providing real-time visibility and insights into data right on the factory floor.

The MEMEX software installed in Mazak’s own factory allows for monitoring analytics of machines, test stands, and other equipment within the plant. The Cisco hardware is designed to help prevent any issues with unauthorized access from both directions – to or from the machines and equipment within a network. SmartBox satisfies the highly critical security concerns of IT departments when connecting legacy equipment to a plant’s main network for the purpose of gathering manufacturing data via the MTConnect protocol.

The underlying Cisco networking platform helps ensure that IT technicians will be familiar with SmartBox’s operation and can use it to quickly and easily control and manage network security. Also, the hardware allows manufacturers to enable secure machine communications through secure access and identity policy mechanisms. Third parties, such as equipment suppliers, can then log on to a company’s network and access only those machines equipped with a Mazak SmartBox.

To see the full article, please click here.

Mazak launches platform to bring manufacturers into the IIOT

By: Canadian Metalworking – October 15, 2015

Mazak developed SmartBox to work with any machine regardless of make, model or age.

Mazak Corporation is collaborating with Cisco and MEMEX to launch a platform “for easy and highly secure entrance into the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT),” called SmartBox.

This technology represents a huge leap in digital integration across manufacturing. Access to real-time manufacturing data is used to improve overall productivity and responsiveness to customer/market changes. Using MTConnect technology as the foundation, SmartBox connectivity of machines and devices allows for enhanced monitoring and analytical capabilities including advanced cyber security protection.

Mazak is showcasing the SmartBox technology during its DISCOVER 2015 Technology and Education Event, held October 27-29 and November 3-5 at its North American Manufacturing Headquarters.

The power of SmartBox will be demonstrated in one of the automated cells as part of the company’s own manufacturing operations. Each of the cell’s four machines are outfitted with a SmartBox and sensor array package, giving event attendees a firsthand look at the device in action within an actual manufacturing environment and network.

The SmartBox is another component within Mazak’s dynamic iSMART Factory concept and one that takes advantage of Cisco’s Connected Machines solution to provide insights into machine operations. Advanced manufacturing cells and systems, along with full digital integration, can achieve free-flow data sharing, i.e., process control and operation/equipment monitoring.

The iSMART concept also incorporates Mazak’s SMOOTH Technology working in tandem with the MTConnect standard connectivity protocol.

Mazak also developed SmartBox to work with any machine regardless of make, model or age and will offer it in various configurations/kits based on the scenarios and challenges in which the units will be used. The device physically mounts to the side of machines without having to integrate into a machine’s electrical cabinet. With several standard input/output connecting ports, SmartBox lets users quickly and easily connect any standard off-the-shelf sensors to the system for machine data gathering and condition monitoring. One SmartBox may service several machine tools along with other associated manufacturing equipment, depending on the application.

At the heart of the SmartBox is Cisco’s Connected Machines solution, based on the IoT System, designed specifically for industrial environments and equipped with an MTConnect software agent. Using a fog computing model, the MT Connect software runs directly on the ruggedized Cisco Industrial Ethernet (IE) 4000 switch—providing real time visibility and insights into data right on the factory floor.

The Memex software installed in Mazak’s own factory allows for monitoring analytics of machines, test stands and other equipment within the plant. The Cisco hardware is designed to help prevent any issues with unauthorized access from both directions – to or from the machines and equipment within a network. SmartBox satisfies the highly critical security concerns of IT departments when connecting legacy equipment to a plant’s main network for the purpose of gathering manufacturing data via the MTConnect protocol.

“With the development of SmartBox, Mazak continues to drive toward its iSMART Factory concept and connecting today’s shops to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to achieve levels of efficiency and productivity never before realized,” said Brian Papke, President of Mazak Corporation. “And while our concept centers around open connectivity and the Internet, we at Mazak believe it is our moral obligation to also provide customers the highest level of security possible with SmartBox. As with all the technology we develop, Mazak has first implemented SmartBox into our own operations before expecting customers to wholeheartedly embrace the system.”

The underlying Cisco networking platform helps ensure that IT technicians will be familiar with SmartBox’s operation and can use it to quickly and easily control and manage network security. Also, the hardware allows manufacturers to enable secure machine communications through secure access and identity policy mechanisms. Third parties, such as equipment suppliers, can then log on to a company’s network and access only those machines equipped with a Mazak SmartBox.

“This is great example of how Cisco works with our ecosystem of partners to help customers capture the value of digitization,” said Tony Shakib, Vice President, Vertical Solutions, at Cisco.

“Cisco’s scalable and secure IoT platform makes it possible for partners like Mazak and MEMEX to quickly launch new IoT offerings that provide high-value customer experiences and business outcomes. We’re helping our OEM partners transform their business from selling products to selling industrial services.”

For more information, visit www.mazakusa.com.

To see the article, please click here.