MTConnect is an open manufacturing technology standard that uses proven, royalty free Internet communications technologies as its basis to allow manufacturing technology vendors and customers to safely and easily communicate.
"Sun Microsystems has a very long history of working with the industry and academia to create and promote open technology standards that drive genuine innovation,” said Dave Edstrom, Chief Technologist of the Americas Software Practice for Sun Microsystems. “Open source and open standards are the keys to unlocking manufacturing innovation and efficiency around the world, particularly in growing emerging markets. I am thrilled Sun has been able to play a pivotal role in the development of such an important initiative as MTConnect."
The Challenge in Today's Manufacturing Facilities and Machine Shops
A typical manufacturing facility includes hundreds, if not thousands, of machines and autonomous systems that must operate together to produce high-quality products in a timely and cost-effective manner. While each of these machines and systems accumulates information on its operation, this data cannot usually be shared, which makes it difficult to track machine efficiency, process flow, energy usage, toolpath validation and other metrics. As a result, manufacturers are challenged to coordinate and optimize machines and systems to ensure that these individual components and the factory as a whole are operating at acceptable levels.
Interoperability from Design Studio to Shop Floor
MTConnect is an essential first step to connect these production islands and will open up new markets and opportunities for the manufacturing technology industry. Bringing unprecedented interoperability from design studio to shop floor, MTConnect helps enable third-party solution providers to develop software and hardware that make the entire manufacturing enterprise much more productive.
With MTConnect, the manufacturing technology industry can mirror the success of the information technology industry, where common, open industry standards are used to design hardware and software technology to enable different manufacturers’ products to work with each other. Just as large compute farms are used to accurately model microprocessors today, MTConnect should help enable the vision of "art to part, first-time correct" by taking advantage of large compute clusters.
As a leader in creating open standards for the IT industry, Sun is in a strong position to help the manufacturing industry create a common, open standard. The Solaris™ Operating System, Java™ technology, the Sun Java Real-Time System, Sun™ SPOT, Sun™ xVM software and MySQL™ software are among the innovative technologies that will help enable MTConnect to deliver complete and open interoperability on the manufacturing floor, seamlessly connecting to the enterprise as well as to technology manufacturing partners in ways that were previously impossible.
Sun’s long history of innovation in CAD/CAM, HPC, grid computing, simulation, real-time and modeling technology provides the ideal platform for MTConnect. Indeed, manufacturing technology companies could have immediate access to Sun computing resources via the Network.com Software Catalogue platform, allowing them to easily build, test, and deploy MTConnect enabled applications on-demand over the Internet.
Although developed through an open collaborative effort, the MTConnect initiative was initially led by Dr. Dave Patterson, Professor in Computer Science of the University of California at Berkeley, and Sun’s Dave Edstrom.
Edstrom was inspired to approach Dr. Patterson after attending the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in September 2006. “I was absolutely convinced that creating a manufacturing technology standard using proven, open and royalty-free Internet technologies was an imperative effort in which Sun must invest,” he said. “The expected impact of MTConnect on the manufacturing sector is analogous to the effect that the browser had on the development of the Internet: MTConnect will revolutionize the manufacturing technology industry by providing a common, open platform which, in turn, will revolutionize manufacturing.”
Dr. Patterson commented, “It is great news for the manufacturing technology industry that MTConnect is becoming real, and that Sun Microsystems will be officially joining the MTConnect Advisory Group."
"Sun recognized the potential of utilizing the power of information
technology to move manufacturing to levels of productivity never seen
before,” added John Byrd, President of the
Association for Manufacturing Technology. "When the history of MTConnect
is written, Sun Microsystems will be recognized as having played a
critical role in the development of the initial concept. Dave Edstrom's
vision and foresight enabled thought leaders of our industry to step out
of their comfort zone and tackle the most significant issue the
manufacturing technology industry will face in the 21st Century."