Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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SPEC-OPS project wins DMDII R&D award


May 24, 2016
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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May 24, 2016 – Itamco — a manufacturer of precision-machined components, specializing in gears — is part of a team that received an Applied Research and Development award from the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII). The award-winning project is titled “Standards-Based Platform for Enterprise Communication Enabling Optimal Production and Self-Awareness,” also known as SPEC-OPS. The other partners in the project are Palo Alto Research Center, MTConnect Institute and System Insights; Itamco is the implementation site for SPEC-OPS.

“We are excited to continue to advance applied R&D within our core technology focus areas,” said Dr. Dean Bartles, executive director of DMDII. “With each project call, we bring additional researchers, global industry leaders, and small companies into our consortium and move closer to making technologies related to ‘smart manufacturing’ and ‘brilliant factory’ applicable to manufacturers across the country.”

The goal of SPEC-OPS, according to the parties, is to make smart manufacturing a reality by connecting and configuring diverse machine tools, PLCs, sensors and devices on the shop floor. Currently, on-site process data and machine controller data are disconnected from higher-level decision-making systems, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, they note. SPEC-OPS will “validate, integrate and enhance” five standards (ISA-95, MTConnect, UPnP, STEP ISO 13399, ISO 13374) to provide a “standard-based communication platform that enables integrated predictive process control, dynamic scheduling, and process analytics with significantly reduced implementation cost.”

The parties say the cost savings will be realized through asset discovery and location services with the goal of realizing a plug-and-play, near-zero configuration using real-time sensor and process data. Location services will allow devices to find each other and discover capabilities, to compute dynamic travel times as well as the proximity of mobile material handlers and manufacturing assets in near real-time. They also say SPEC-OPS will be the “first communication platform that allows tight integration” between machine tools, Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), ERP systems, dynamic planning and scheduling, and process analytics.

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“We are only 12 to 15 months away from a totally integrated shop floor. A job will be entered into our ERP system and then every piece of the job, from allocating materials, to manufacturing, to shipping and invoicing, will be automatically routed through the entire facility. Machines will be chosen based on the type of work and availability. And SPEC-OPS is dynamic—if a machine goes down, the job will be automatically rerouted,” said Joel Neidig, engineer and lead IT developer at ITAMCO.

SPEC-OPS promises to provide savings in planning, scheduling, execution and maintenance time and “translate to increased competitiveness and agility” for manufacturers. “SPEC-OPS will make Itamco even more valuable to our customers in mining, oil and gas, aerospace, and defence,” said Neidig. “Our goal is to be the most reliable and quality-driven resource in their supply chain. We are very appreciative of the award funding that makes this possible and we’re enjoying the collaboration with Palo Alto Research Center, MTConnect Institute and System Insights.”