Connected machines: Mazak’s SmartBox shows intelligent connection

Todays Medical Development – November 2, 2015

During Discover2015 – a Mazak Technology & Education Event, which ran 10/27-29 and will continue Nov. 3-5, 2015 – Mazak Corp. has been showcasing its SmartBox – technology developed in collaboration with Cisco, a supplier of IT connectivity solutions, and Memex Inc., a provider of machine-to-machine communication solutions. Designed to ease the connection of machine tools to a web-enabled, plant-wide network, the SmartBox works to connect to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) from the factory floor.

As described by Bryce Barnes, senior manager responsible for Cisco’s Machine and Robot Segment globally under Cisco’s Internet of Things Manufacturing Solutions Group, this SmartBox technology will enable real-time manufacturing data and analytics from Mazak machines to improve overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) for Mazak’s manufacturing customers.

A component within Mazak’s iSMART Factory concept, SmartBox uses the 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 the Cisco Industrial Ethernet (IE) 4000 switch – providing real-time visibility and insights into data right on the factory floor. Network level security can also be embedded to help prevent any issues with unauthorized access to or from the machines and equipment within a network

This seems to be the starting point with how companies are working together to capture the value of the data that used to be held captive in a machine.

As noted during Discover2015, the SmartBox achieves:

  • A digitally integrated platform to improve manufacturing efficiency – machine utilization and associated downtime
  • Track machine utilization using OEE as a standard measure
  • Produce machine, operator, and plant productivity analytics and KPI reports for actions by management/production teams
  • Establish a secure, plant-wide network to connect new and legacy machine and other equipment to track OEE
  • Use sensor technology for monitoring characteristics of machines, enabling predictive maintenance

And this is just the start…stay tuned…