Additive Manufacturing

MAR 2018

ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING is the magazine devoted to industrial applications of 3D printing and digital layering technology. We cover the promise and the challenges of this technology for making functional tooling and end-use production parts.

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M TCO NNECT CATEGORY: M Manufacturing Technology MARCH 2018 Additive Manufacturing 22 What's Next for MTConnect Applications By Russ Waddell Director – MTConnect Institute Predictive analytics is a hot topic for good reason. The vision of anticipating breakdowns before they happen is decades old, but the computing power, available data, and level of statistics and forecasting expertise in industry today puts this vision closer to reality than ever before. Production line shutdowns are exceptionally costly, and manufacturing executives are under- standably enthusiastic about moving from a preventative to a predictive paradigm. Within the MTConnect community, the rise of analytics has been watched closely. The MTConnect standard drastically reduces the cost of translation across different brands or types of equipment and devices, so a factory outfitted with MTConnect is an appealing target for an analytics project thanks to data that is already homogenized and uniformly defined. Machine monitoring was the first widely commercialized ap- plication using MTConnect data, and those applications have long been used to visualize data like utilization and OEE. Most software packages now include additional data views and functionality like downtime classification or segmented data by operator, shift or process. Basic monitoring packages have added more and more analysis functions and features as more factories install monitor- ing software. Many of these features relied on MTConnect data, either by adding calculation across multiple existing MTConnect data items or by adding new data items into the standard. Following on the foundation already in place for monitoring and status reporting, predictive analytics is the most talked-about upcoming application area for MTConnect. Predictive analytics, which broadly speaking means using data and statistical modeling to anticipate future events or conditions, has been talked about for decades in manufacturing. Data science has grown into a full-fledged industry, but one that is often short on usable real-world datasets. Thanks to a robust and actively developed standards ecosystem and a huge number of high-value use cases, manufac- turing has seen a raft of new data analytics companies enter the space. Although predictive analytics is getting the most attention, a less glamorous area has the potential for widespread commer- cialization in the very near term. Analytics for process improvement are a logical next step from monitoring, and avoid the complexity of building good predictive models. Process visibility is like shopfloor monitoring in that it presents data that already existed but may have been hidden to operators, engineers or management. In high-volume produc- tion work, it's already common to present process data to users and management. That may include detailed views of setups, operations, or individual parts and assemblies. Shopfloor monitoring, by con- trast, tends to emphasize a complete and comprehensive view of all equipment and assets. Customers are increasingly demanding both detailed process data and comprehensive asset management views. Analytics is an area of tremendous opportunity for manufac- turing and automation. Basic connectivity and data collection are increasingly the norm, but new applications that go well beyond status reporting are rapidly being commercialized. Adapted from "Next Generation of MTConnect Applications," ISA InTech magazine, January 2018.

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