Beyond the High-Tech Glitz, Process Efficiency and Maximized Machine Utilization Remain the Goals

By Dan Janka, President of Mazak Corporation

As a special guest, I attended the recent Cisco Systems Inc.’s Cisco Live event held in Las Vegas that drew upwards of 30,000 technology innovators. The event focused heavily on cloud-based infrastructures as well as cloud-based applications, processing and analyzing of data and monitoring software as they relate to many industries, including manufacturing. And while the tech world is a buzz with all these new concepts and technologies and their slick applications in everything from tracking consumer purchasing trends to self-driving cars, for us in the manufacturing world the goals are simple and will always remain the same – Optimize manufacturing processes and maximize asset (machine) utilization.

To show how these new technologies are doing just that, Cisco and Mazak partnered in a demonstration that proved the center piece of the event’s industrial manufacturing space/exhibit. It featured an INTEGREX i-100S Multi-Tasking Machine with integrated robot loader and equipped with several key components of Mazak’s SMOOTH TECHNOLOGY, including the MTConnect communications protocol, Mazak’s SmoothX CNC and the Mazak Smartbox. The exhibit demonstrated – via three monitors – new advanced functions called Safe File Transfer (SFT), Machine Protect and Machine Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) monitoring.

Cisco developed its safe file transfer as a secure platform that allows companies to create part programs/machining processes, store them in the cloud and from there download and/or transfer them to a machine on the production floor. For the demonstration, Cisco used its industrial Switching technology and downloaded a file from a remote location to the INTEGREX i-100S’s CNC.

OEMs and Tier I-level suppliers deal with highly proprietary designs as well as in-house developed manufacturing processes. So, security is paramount. And in the very near future, we will see OEMs on the scale of Boeing, Chrysler and Caterpillar, as well as global Tier I suppliers, take an interest in the capability to control and optimize their machining processes then replicate them in manufacturing facilities located globally.

The second monitor in the Mazak exhibit demonstrated what Cisco refers to as machine protect. For this, Neil Desrosiers, application engineer/developer/MTConnect specialist at Mazak, created a program that dry cycled the machine through all its various functions and movements. The machine was outfitted with sensors that then measured spindle vibration, axis vibration, heat and axis loads. From the feedback, machine protect created a digital footprint or digital twin of the machine.

Then the INTEGREX i-100S started the cycle again, and Desrosiers introduced a very subtle anomaly – in this case an out-of-balance tool – into one of the cycles. When he did so, the machine’s high-speed spindle rotated the tool that, in turn, caused vibration which the spindle sensor detected. This real-time streaming data fed back and displayed on the monitor in the form of spikes that ran well outside an acceptable level determined from the machine’s digital twin.

The third monitor displayed factors of machine utilization/overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).  This is the same capability Mazak has incorporated into its own manufacturing operations using MTConnect and the Mazak Smartbox developed in collaboration with Cisco.

The Mazak iSMART Factory™ monitors all of its manufacturing equipment and devices tracking program stops, feed holds, spindle overrides, tool changes and other reasons why a machine may be idle. By analyzing collected data, Mazak personnel are able to identify and easily address such downtime-related inefficiencies to improve processes and machine utilization.

Overall, the Mazak exhibit at Cisco Live garnered a lot of attention, especially from Cisco’s industry analysts. They indicated a continuing trend toward the factories of the future where all devices are connected, real-time monitoring happens as well as data analysis to predict when any future failures might occur in efforts to proactively initiate preventive maintenance measures. All to avoid any disruptions in production and create a worry free manufacturing environment.  And because of the shear volumes of data involved, cloud-based solutions will prove critical, as will complete cybersecurity.

At this time, the machine tool industry and manufacturing world are just now scratching the surface in the realm of connectivity, big data, analytics, Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things. But I can, in all honesty, point out that Mazak is way ahead of the pack in this technology. And with that said, Mazak’s steadfast value proposition is one that clearly enables manufacturing companies to be more efficient and get the most utilization possible from their machine tools.

Want to learn more about how you can make your machines more efficient and boost utilization? Visit the Mazak booth S-8300 at IMTS 2016 in Chicago.

About Mazak Corporation

Mazak Corporation is a leader in the design and manufacture of productive machine tool solutions. Committed to being a partner to customers with innovative technology, its world-class facility in Florence, Kentucky, produces over 100 models of turning centers, Multi-Tasking machines and vertical machining centers, including 5- axis models. Continuously investing in manufacturing technology allows the Kentucky Mazak iSMART Factory™ to be the most advanced and efficient in the industry, providing high-quality and reliable products through its “Production-On-Demand” practice. Mazak maintains eight Technology Centers across North America to provide local hands-on applications, service and sales support to customers. For more information on Mazak's products and solutions, visit or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.