The Plug-and-Play Future Has Begun

The Plug-and-Play Future Has Begun

Freedom E-Log hits the markets as a new machine availability and utilization tool.

Industry's search for machine tool interoperability solutions predates the launch of AMT's standards initiative. One example is a machine availability and utilization tool called Freedom E-Log from Maintenance Technologies, a business unit of MAG Industrial Automation Systems. Although predicated on a proprietary communications standard, it reduces machine tool interoperability to more of a plug-and-play concept.

Initially developed for the company's internal needs, the standards-based logging and on-demand reporting application was commercialized two years ago, says James Siderits, the company's vice president, business development and marketing. Freedom E-Log was also used in the demonstrations of the Smart Machine Platform initiative where the solution facilitated the goal of getting the first part correct, thus eliminating the typical trial and error in part production setup.

Siderits says the tool is now offered to customers to help them understand what is happening on the factory floor and how they can best react to that in real time. The idea is to monitor the history of the machine's activities from both a utilization and availability standpoint. Customers typically port the machine data into enterprise systems dedicated to such things as maintenance and ERP. The approach can report on specific conditions of any machine on the factory floor.

Braun (standing) and Siderits
Freedom E-Log is designed to communicate with a wide variety of controls, whether contemporary PC designs or legacy designs that have been on the factory floor for a decade or more, adds Jim Braun, vice president of product development. "We can connect to all of the machines that are under the MAG 'umbrella' as well as competitor's equipment." He anticipates that the new AMT standards initiative could simplify the implementation of Freedom E-Log as well as simplifying interoperability for all of manufacturing. He says AMT's initiative signals a watershed event in manufacturing.

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