Mazak has made changes to its SmartBox, a concept it launhed last fall as part of its Smart iFactory system.
Mazak worked with manufacturing software solutions company System Insights Inc., and the two companies capitalized on the SmartBox’s complete open architecture to give it such advanced capability. With the power to enrich, or process, data, the SmartBox reduces the complexity of a source’s/machine tool’s data stream, or its “digital exhaust,” and simplifies it into a form that other applications can understand and utilize.
Developed in partnership with Cisco, Mazak’s SmartBox, at its base, is a launch platform for manufacturing operations monitoring and analytics as well as secure entrance into the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). With added enrichment capability, the SmartBox allows users to take full advantage of machine data regardless of complexity.
Enrichment classifies and identifies the data in terms of what is happening in a process and who is doing it. In the case of manufacturing, enrichment entails information such as when a machine was making a part, who was operating the machine, what was happening while the part was being made and reasons for any machine downtime.
As part of its work with Mazak, System Insights designed the Vimana Enrich software to reside in the SmartBox. The highly sophisticated software system analyzes data and understands the behavior of machines within the context of manufacturing processes. It gives manufacturers extensive insight into exactly what their manufacturing equipment is doing in real time.
Vimana Enrich provides continuous feedback to the SmartBox’s resident MTConnect® standard communications protocol agent using an extended set of data items and vocabulary. The software combines its process knowledge with MTConnect data to provide the necessary contextual understanding of current processes. In doing so, it paves the way for better, more intuitive decision making where complex analytics and prognostics are used to compare patterns to historical norms and provide key performance indicators and send alerts when processes are operating incorrectly.
For cybersecurity, Mazak SmartBox offers network isolation, which prevents unauthorized access from both directions – to and from the machines and equipment on a network. SmartBox also satisfies the critical security concerns of IT departments when connecting legacy equipment to a plant’s main network for the purpose of gathering manufacturing data through the MTConnect protocol.
The Mazak SmartBox unit mounts to the side of a machine without the need for a direct connection to a machine’s electrical cabinet. It provides several standard input ports and connection ports to quickly and easily connect any standard off-the-shelf sensors to the system for machine data gathering and condition monitoring. One SmartBox can serve several machine tools, along with other associated manufacturing equipment, depending on the application.