The inability of various manufacturing technology components to communicate with each other on the factory floor is slowing the development of more advanced manufacturing technology product and system solutions that, if implemented, would significantly improve manufacturing productivity. The increasing need to share data, from sensors to controls to machines, in a manner necessary for development of next-generation manufacturing concepts is limited by this lack of compatibility among components and systems.
To address this need, the Association For Manufacturing Technology (AMT) is leading an effort to develop a common Inter-Operability standard to allow manufacturers to collect, transmit and leverage data from discrete manufacturing equipment. AMT’s Board of Directors has approved a two-year initiative of up to $1 million to begin the effort.
Initial work will be performed at the University of California at Berkeley under the direction of Dr. David Dornfeld, Mechanical Engineering Professor and Associate Dean of Interdisciplinary Studies, College of Engineering, with the assistance of Dr. Armando Fox, Research Associate at the Reliable Adaptive Distributed (RAD) Systems Laboratory, Computer Science Division. The goal is to develop a standard over the next 18 months and demonstrate it at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in September 2008.
“We believe this initiative can revolutionize the way in which manufactured products are designed and produced,” says John B. Byrd III, AMT President. “And we also realize that this funding, though significant, is only the beginning of what will be required.” Additional support will be sought from other public and private sector sources.
The initiative’s goal is to produce a standard way of exchanging information among all types of manufacturing equipment. This “middleware,” possibly based on .xml, would be an open standard available without charge to researchers and manufacturers worldwide.
Researchers, educators and senior manufacturing executives have already expressed enthusiasm about the potential of the Inter-Operability standard. It will dramatically increase the ability of manufacturing firms to understand the processes on the factory floor, and to then design products and manufacturing systems to optimize their performance. This common standard should also spur increased attention to manufacturing issues by the computer technology community.
This initiative compliments efforts underway within the Smart Machine Platform Initiative to develop technologies that realize the goal of being able to manufacture a first part correct. This effort is guided by the Coalition on Manufacturing Technology Infrastructure, made up of member based organizations within the manufacturing community. This and other groups representing various manufacturing interests will be involved in developing the new standard.