Integration: 2 efforts use Internet protocol for industrial networks

Cisco, SAP, and Sun are among 25 charter members of IPSO Alliance, which offers education and Interoperability testing for embedded Internet Protocol (IP) applications. MTConnect, an IP network, was discussed at IMTS as a new open, royalty-free standard for greater interoperability among machine tools, controls, devices, and software applications.


San Francisco, CA, Chicago, IL IPSO Alliance , which offers education and Interoperability testing for embedded Internet Protocol (IP) applications. Also, MTConnect was discussed at IMTS in Chicago. MTConnect is described as
MTConnect is a first step to connect islands of production and to move towards a seamless manufacturing operation, organizers say
By establishing an open, extensible communication standard for interconnectivity between devices, equipment, and systems that produce data in different “languages,” MTConnect will allow all sources to understand each other’s data. That common communication using proven Internet communications technology (XML) will provide managers with near real-time data throughout a factory, and empower them to develop more efficient operations, improve production optimization, and increase productivity.
The ability of manufacturing equipment to share data in a near real-time environment was demonstrated in the Emerging Technology Center at the recent IMTS manufacturing technology show in Chicago. Machines operated by exhibitors throughout the halls posed data to a computer dashboard. By touching a company logo on the dashboard, an ETC visitor could immediately see what a selected machine was doing.
Manufacturing technology can now mirror the success experienced in the information technology industry, where a common standard is used to design hardware (such as USB) and software to enable products to work with each other.
Not a proprietary piece of hardware or special-purpose software to link machines and systems together, MTConnect is an open communication standard that uses Internet communications technology. Engineers and designers can extend data types to be transferred to enhance their products. Example software, developed to test the soundness of the standard, can be downloaded from the Website and used as-is, modified for special needs, reverse-engineered, or as a template to create one’s own software interface to meet requirements.
MTConnect allows connectivity from the lowest end of the process chain– nearest the workpiece or shop floor – to the highest design or process planning tool. It should enable any third-party solution provider to develop software and hardware to make the enterprise more productive.
MTConnect Version 1.0 is in review by the MTConnect Technical Advisory Group (MTCTAG). It will be voted on by MTCTAG for adoption as an Open Standard in the fourth quarter.
AMT-The Association For Manufacturing Technology began work last year with University of California at Berkeley, Georgia Institute of Technology, and several manufacturing technology companies, with seed money provided by AMT. MTConnect is governed by the MTCTAG. A list of companies involved in the project is available online.
Several more universities from inside and outside the U.S. participated via the first MTConnect Student Competition. Seven submitted pre-proposals and four full submissions were provided, including University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Laboratory for Optimization of Manufacturing Processes (OPF), Sao Carlos Engineering School (2 submissions); Oakland Community College, Auburn Hills, MI; and University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH. The Competition will culminate with winners invited to EMO Milano 2009, where they will demonstrate their work.
Next steps include adoption of MTConnect Version 1.0, promotion and information sharing with developer user groups and others interested in developing products based on the standard, and the Student Competition winners’ demo. Any company or organization can be a member, participant, or contributor to the development and application of the standard. Information is available from Paul Warndorf, vice president of technology, AMT .
See “Machine Tools Get Chatty,” an article in Design News newsletter .
In related news, a new industry alliance promotes use of IP in networks of smart objects. Cisco, SAP, and Sun are among 25 charter members of IPSO Alliance, which offers education and Interoperability testing for embedded IP applications.
A group of leading technology vendors and users have formed the IP for Smart Objects (IPSO) Alliance, to promote the Internet Protocol (IP) as the networking technology best suited for connecting sensor- and actuator-equipped, or smart objects and to deliver information gathered by those objects.
Smart objects are objects in the physical world that, typically with the help of embedded devices, transmit information about their condition or environment to locations where the information can be analyzed, correlated with other data, and acted upon. Applications range from automated and energy-efficient homes and office buildings, factory equipment maintenance and asset tracking to hospital patient monitoring, and safety and compliance assurance.
Intended to complement the efforts of organizations such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), which develop and ratify technical standards in the Internet community, IPSO Alliance will perform interoperability tests,
document use of new IP-based technologies, conduct marketing activities, and act as an information repository for users seeking to understand the role of IP in networks of physical objects. The Alliance seeks to advocate how networks of all types of objects have the potential to be converged onto IP.
Founding members include Atmel, Duke Energy, Emerson, Freescale, Kinney Consulting, PicosNet, Silver Spring Networks, and a number of others.
Geoff Mulligan, industry consultant and IPSO Alliance chairman, said, "In recent years IP has emerged as the most efficient and scalable networking technology not just in the traditional IT realm but in scenarios with low power, restricted memory, rugged surroundings, and tens of
thousands of often unattended devices. Users are recognizing that the proven, ubiquitous IP standard is a much better alternative to using a patchwork of proprietary protocols that have no guarantee of scalability or interoperability, and require complex gateways that are difficult to deploy and manage . . . We will offer case studies and white papers, track IETF and other standards, and organize demonstrations and interoperability events."
"Unlike proprietary technologies, which typically are constrained to a single physical medium, IP allows users virtually limitless flexibility thanks to a layered architecture. It works on any physical layer from wired to Wi-Fi to low-power radio and more," said Cisco’s Jean-Philippe Vasseur, chairman of the Alliance's Technical Advisory Board.
IPSO Alliance membership is open to any organization advocating an IP-based approach to connecting smart objects. There are two levels of membership: Contributor members, who currently pay $2,500 per year, may use the Alliance's technical guidelines and case studies, participate in meetings and committees, demonstrate their products at meetings, tradeshows and other Alliance events, and qualify their products and services in the interoperability program. Promoter members, who currently pay $5,000 per year, are eligible to vote, serve on the Alliance's board of directors, and chair committees.
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