MTConnect to shine at IMTS tech center: open system offers easy data exchange.

Author:Modic, Stan
Position:Straight talk

Some 90,000 potential buyers are expected to crowd Chicago's McCormick Place over the six-day International Manufacturing Technology Show from Sept. 8-13. Most will be plying the miles of aisles spread over all four halls searching for the latest piece of metalworking equipment to improve their productivity, quality, and profitability.

It'll all be there, much of it appealing to today's hot medical and electronics markets to crank out small, high precision parts, For example, Bill Popoli, running the U.S. arm of IBAG, the Swiss spindle maker, tells me he'll be showing a compact, high power, high-speed spindle directed at screw machines producing tiny medical parts.

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Popoli claims that one customer, after installing a 30,000rpm compact spindle (most Swiss lathes come standard with 5,000 to 8,000rpm spindles), reduced machining time from 30 minutes per part to three minutes.

He sees more emphasis on cost and investment.

"We have to be more innovative and use whatever technology we have available to make us faster and better than the cheap-labor countries," Popoli tells me. He sees his customers "embracing technology to be more competitive in the world markets."

Another example: Mazak Corp. has squeezed its multi-tasking technology into a 58sqft footprint. Its Integrex i-150 is designed to handle small complex parts

A universal protocol

But the most exciting technological development at IMTS will be the first public demonstration of MTConnect. It is an effort launched by the the Association of Manufacturing Technology (AMT) more than a year ago to create an XML-based (Extensible Markup Language) open standard for advanced manufacturing data communications. This was done with the assistance of computer-industry experts and researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The AMT seeded the project to the tune of more than $1 million. It is being steered by a technical advisory group of 14 companies representing both technology providers and end users.

AMT President John Byrd believes the effort, once completed, "will revolutionize manufacturing and enable companies to achieve productivity levels that could only be dreamed of in the past."

Paul Warndorf, AMT vice president-technology, explains that MTConnect "will allow devices and systems to send out data that can be read by any other device using the same standard."

The new-found technology will be open and royalty-free to...

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