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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

NIST Researchers Test MTConnect, Robot Interoperability

MTConnect_LogoResearchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) successfully tested the MTConnect standard to show compatibility between the protocol and other manufacturing techniques and processes.

The NIST researchers were able to program a robot to load workpieces onto a lathe in succession. The robot, conversant in the software library ROS-Industrial, was programmed to synchronize with the MTConnect-conversant lathe in a few hours, well undercutting the length of time needed to bridge other programming languages.

Researchers used a robot that operated on ROS-Industrial because the software is open source, as is MTConnect. Stakeholders theorize that MTConnect will improve interoperability between different programming protocols, and open-source platforms are the easiest to disseminate.

“This is a giant step forward in resolving manufacturing interoperability issues,” Doug Woods, president of The Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT), one of the co-sponsors of MTConnect. “To witness existing standards like MTConnect and ROS being leveraged in a collaborative effort by NIST, National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), AMT, and industry leading technology companies is exciting. Seamless communications among disparate pieces of manufacturing technology equipment and devices is imperative to data access which ultimately drives analytics and opens the door for productivity enhancements.”

For more information about MTConnect, please see earlier IMT Machining Journal coverage, including an audio interview with Tom Scotton, director, Modeling & Simulation, at the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT), and the ongoing MTConnect Challenge contest.

Brian Lane



  1. This work was conducted under Grant Opportunity Number 2012-NIST-MSE-01 for the Intelligent System Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) with the collaboration of System Insights, SwRI (Southwest Research Institute), NCDMM (National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining), AMT (Association for Manufacturing Technology) and Mazak USA for help with connectivity of the machine tool used in the demonstration.

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