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Two New Devices Focus on Securely Accessing Data in Legacy Machines

April 202016 | Brett Brune | Smart Manufacturing magazine

A trio of Mazak, Memex and Cisco is beginning to sell SmartBox, a device meant to securely manage manufacturing data—information on axes, spindles, temperatures, cutting times, downtimes and part counts, for starters—culled from machines that have been laboring in a sort of silence for decades. At the same time, a pairing of Forcam and Wago plans to release a similar device it calls the PFC100 Industrial MTConnect device before July.

SmartBox uses I/O links to connect machines and produces MTConnect code in real time. It can use an adapter board from Memex and must be connected to a Cisco router, John Rattray, VP of sales and marketing at Memex, said in an interview with Smart Manufacturing magazine at the MC2 conference in Dallas. It can also use Memex’s factory- and machine-shop-floor-monitoring software, Merlin, to map existing signals and analyze and correlate the data so shops and plants can use it to improve productions.

Companies in the aerospace, defense and medical industries welcome the Cisco router requirement because it assuages their network security concerns, he added.

“We’re talking about IP connections in terms of Ethernet connections,” Rattray said. “You don’t need to have all the security in there to make the connection work. However, one customer of ours, DP Tool in New York, had experienced a situation where a guy who was maintaining a machine put in a USB stick into it and a virus on this USB stick spread to the company’s manufacturing network and whole admin network. It cost the company an enormous amount of effort and grief to get that fixed. You can run without security switches. But smart manufacturers are recognizing we need to secure and lock down our shop floor networks.”

The SmartBox has a “level three” managed switch that will shut the device down automatically if a USB stick comes its way or someone unplugs a particular Ethernet connection, Rattray added.

The emerging device from Forcam and Wago has a combined MTConnect adapter and agent inside the device, as well as a built-in security firewall for cybersecurity, Forcam USA Inc. CEO Mohamed Abuali said. He demonstrated a simulation model at MC2, saying it cost less than the trio’s device.

The Forcam/Wago product will cost less than $1,000, he said. And the Mazak/Memex/Cisco device will cost $4,000 on the low end but could be used on four machines, Mazak President Brian Papke said.

Companies using legacy CNCs will soon be able to choose between bolting their new data-retrieving device together with a Cisco network router or a “quicker solution that can connect to any network,” Abuali said. “The alternative [to these two options] is you have to retrofit the machine and upgrade the controller, which can cost thousands of dollars. In many cases, you cannot even retrofit.”

Both devices are intended to help manufacturers around the world connect their machines securely to a network. About 14.5 million machines still lack connectivity, Rattray said.

Of course, the idea is to then analyze the data to make the best decisions possible about manufacturing and machining processes. And some of those decisions can be made without human involvement, to be sure: “For instance, if a temperature sensor starts to rise above a threshold limit, the machine can send an alert and notify people before it fails,” he added.

Merlin lets companies “take data and make it manageable,” said Papke, who serves on the board for MTConnect. Otherwise, companies end up with “digital exhaust.”

“Forcam wants to define real-time production—from any machine of any age,” Abuali said. “That’s a critical state.”

Memex Chief Technology Officer Dave Edstrom is “very pleased to see more of these type boxes come out—because, as the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all ships,” he said.

But he couldn’t stop himself from making a quick comparison with the offering from Forcam/Wago: “The integration of what Mazak is doing with the SmartBox, with Memex and Cisco—making it easier to connect—will resonate very well with manufacturing. You don’t have to sell someone on Memex’s ability to connect anything. And you don’t have to sell anyone on Cisco’s ability to network a lot of devices together and do it securely. So that’s why we think SmartBox is a game-changer.”

Click here to read the complete article

To Measure Is To Know – MTConnect book

The world’s first book on MTConnect, an open and royalty-free interoperability standard and the application of open systems in manufacturing has been released and it is titled,  MTConnectTo Measure Is To Know”.  Written by Dave Edstrom, CEO/CTO of MTConnect, the book discusses the many lessons learned in the world of open systems and the value this means to the manufacturing industry.

Dave Edstrom has spent over 35 years in the computer industry.  He helps the reader understand that MTConnect is not just an evolution in manufacturing, but that it is a revolution, a true game changer.  “MTConnect will be more important in the 21st century for manufacturing than CNC was for manufacturing in the 20th century” said John Byrd, former president of Association Manufacturing Technology, www.amtonline.org   (MTConnect: To Measure Is To Know. Ashburn: Virtual Photons Electrons, 2013. pg xiii).  MTConnect is making the dreams and desires of generations of manufactures possible.  Machine tool builders and manufacturing equipment providers alike all want to see the same goal of different devices having a common connection on the plant floor.  With MTConnect, anything is possible.

A few excerpts from the book:

“Only one to two percent of all shops monitor their shop floor.  The ability to know what is happening on your shop or plant floor anywhere, at anytime, is vital to the manufacturing process.  As a comparison, the next time you go in for a surgery, tell the surgeon that you want to save money and not monitor any of your vital signs.  Drop me a note and tell me what the surgeon tells you.  Then why is it that 98% to 99% of all shops don’t bother monitoring their shop floor?

Think of MTConnect as the Bluetooth of manufacturing that makes it easy to get information off your manufacturing equipment.  MTConnect is not an application, but it makes it very easy for applications to read data in a common and universal format.

Different Devices, Common Connection.
(MTConnect: To Measure Is To Know. Ashburn: Virtual Photons Electrons, 2013. pg xii).

“The process of standardization is always a political struggle with winners and losers.  The primary winners will be those companies that understand it is co-opetition (competition and cooperation) that drives thriving markets.  The primary losers will be those companies holding on to proprietary solutions at all costs.  With a standard screw, you could now have standard tools, standard assembly lines, and the growth of mass production.”
(MTConnect: To Measure Is To Know. Ashburn: Virtual Photons Electrons, 2013. pg 3.)

“If we look at the manufacturing companies that are embracing open thinking and open collaboration, these companies report secondary benefits in morale as their employees typically tell their management that they have a much higher job satisfaction.”
(MTConnect: To Measure Is To Know. Ashburn: Virtual Photons Electrons, 2013. pg 22).

Memex is mentioned in the acknowledgements

“Huge thanks to Dave McPhail, president of Memex Automation.  Dave is a great guy, and so is his business partner, John Rattray, who is the vice president of sales and marketing, as well as the whole Memex Automation team.  Thanks as well to Bob Hansen of R.C. Hansen Consulting for his help at [MC]2 2013 and educating me on OEE”
(Dave Edstrom, MTConnect: To Measure Is To Know. Ashburn: Virtual Photons Electrons, 2013. pg 209).

There is a paperback version that is available at Amazon.

Memex Automation Talks Benefits of Direct Numerical Control Software

Originally published online by SBW!RE.  Link to full article here.

According to John Rattray of Memex Automation, “By monitoring assets such as tooling, raw materials, Work In Progress, computers, vehicles and any moveable assets, companies can know quickly, exactly, and securely where assets are located. Direct Numerical Control Software (DNC) improves machines operational performance and increases shop floor productivity.”

DNC Software for Windows 7, Vista, Windows XP and others is a 32-bit multi-threaded communications & file management system allowing simultaneous upload and download to multiple CNC controls. It includes a CNC Editor, Backplotter and many other utilities and features. DNC Software is easily connected to CAD/CAM systems over industry standard networks and is available in a Client-Server configuration. Besides machine tool DNC communications, other shop floor data can be collected from shop terminals, tool pre-setters, bar code equipment or SPC systems.