Mazak’s March to the Smart Factory
By: Doug Picklyk, Canadian Metalworking – November 2, 2015
With over 30 machine tool models operating on the floor of its Kentucky-based National Technology Center, Mazak’s Discover 2015 event (Oct. 27-29, Nov. 3-5) revealed the company’s wide range of products and its commitment to the future of manufacturing.
Anticipating 2,500 visitors over the six-day event, there was an emphasis on multi-tasking “done in one” machine tools, with many North American debut products including the INTEGREX i-400AM HYBRID Multi-Tasking machine featuring additive manufacturing along with full 5-axis milling and turning capabilities.
A highlight of the event was the introduction of Mazak’s launch into the connected cyber world with the introduction of the SmartBox, a platform that serves as a conduit between machine tools, shop floor management, and the Industrial Internet of Things.
The SmartBox incorporates connectors, a processor, software and an industrial switch to read standardized MTConnect common language coming from the machine tools and send the data out in viewable reports for management and shop floor workers as well as provide a constant stream of real-time data out to sophisticated algorithms where analysis can be performed to ensure optimized performance and trigger preventive maintenance and other value-adding functions.
A collaboration among Mazak, Canadian software company Memex and IT giant Cisco, the SmartBox is a connection to move manufacturing to next-level efficiency. As a demonstration of its commitment to connectivity, Mazak was offering tours of its 536,000 sq. ft. North American manufacturing plant, where the company demonstrated its iSMART Factory concept.
Using MTConnect open communications protocol data from its machine tools and feeding that information through Memex’s Merlin monitoring software, the factory displays real-time equipment efficiency information on easy-to-read dashboards on 60-inch monitors throughout the building. According to Ben Schawe, VPof manufacturing, Mazak, after a six month trial period, the factory achieved 17 per cent overall improvement in efficiency across all equipment being monitored.
The digital integration of the Mazak factory was part of a recent $30 million investment in its campus.
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