10 Keys to Understanding MTConnect

MTConnect is an open, royalty-free standard that provides a very detailed semantic vocabulary for devices in the tooling industry. Established in 2006, MTConnect has become the universal interface that connects machine tools to the rest of the digital world. It was designed to reduce the cost and complexity of integrating tooling devices and to enhance the interoperability of devices from different manufacturers. It democratizes the machine shop floor and by providing live monitoring, fault notification, fault prediction and trending, efficiency reporting and other sophisticated analysis to even the smallest machine shops.

Here are the keys to understanding MTConnect.

  1. MTConnect is not a protocol. It’s an information model that provides a set of semantics that represents tooling data.
  2. While MTConnect is primarily used in the automated tooling industry, any kind of equipment can be adapted, including batch cutters, hydraulic shears, bar feeders, sensors and other kinds of tools found in tooling applications as well as other kinds of applications.
  3. There is a rich and detailed semantic library of devices and data descriptions that standardizes the device types, data identifiers, units and data types used to communicate data to an application program.
  4. The standard provides one-way communication: device to application program. It standardizes how data is collected from a machine but does not provide a facility for device control.
  5. MTConnect uses an adapter to convert device data into a standard form. The adapter can be embedded in a device or can exist as an external component.
  6. It uses an agent as the outward facing component that interacts with application programs. The agent can be embedded in a device or an external component that collects data from an adapter.
  7. An agent is a web server that communicates with application programs using HTTP and XML. Because an agent is a web server, an ordinary browser can make the same device requests as an agent.
  8. MTConnect is royalty-free, with source code available to build adapters and agents, so there is no fee to use it.
  9. The standard provides a very flexible interface between application programs and devices. Applications can request the list of devices and data available (schema). They can request all current data or just the current data for some devices. The application can request all or some portion of the data buffered in the agent. Data can be filtered by order of arrival (sequence number), device, data identification and various other ways.
  10. The MTConnect Institute is the not-for-profit standards-development organization that manages the standard. The Association for Manufacturing Technology is the supervising organization for the MTConnect Institute. The Institute manages the technical standards as well as the schema, prototype software and related documentation needed to implement the standard.

With MTConnect, devices of the same type use the identical representation, so there is little integration required when adding a new device. In addition, since the data is identified in exactly the same way, data items are extremely meaningful and easily analyzed by advanced application software tools.

There are lots of situations where having the ability to capture, organize and analyze data from the shop floor is advantageous. RTA has devices that do exactly that, moving your data where you want it, when you want it and how you want it. If that’s what you’re looking for, give RTA a call at 800-249-1612 or send us an email. Their sales team would love to hear from you.