Win With Data

Customers Enjoy a Data-Monitoring System That Helps Them Make Better Business Decisions

Joe FeeleyBy Joe Feeley, Editor in Chief

Lately, I've used this space to focus on the growing list of things that industrial machines have to do, do better, and be committed to as partners to their customers. We've hit on machine safety and sustainability issues among others.

This month's features section looks at machine data and what you can do with it. No, not that. We've assembled a lot of examples of how machine builders can use performance-monitoring tools to leverage machine operating data as a competitive advantage. Customers enjoy savings and a data monitoring system that helps them make better business decisions beyond better factory-floor decisions.

Our cover story, "The Great Data Link-Up," discusses how this fits into a machine builder's portfolio of performance goodies.

We learn that instead of waiting for somebody else to bring performance monitoring from the factory floor to the enterprise, machining center builder Makino ( developed productivity-improving software that connects up its mold-machining centers, and stores spindle characteristics, alarm histories and other information in a historian database. This lets users better monitor availability, alarms, power consumption and other operations. If a business manager has these tools, he can display power consumption relative to machine productivity over a particular time period, and see what parts and processes use the most power to reduce overall costs.

Right after the cover story comes a case history from Schwäbische Maschinenwerkzeuge, a major German machine tool manufacturer. Company manager Markus Schmolz writes that some companies still ask questions about the value of machine-status monitoring. Isn't it dangerous to connect operating machines to the Internet? Can machine status data be used to make decisions for production processes, beyond the obvious maintenance advisories?

Schwäbische makes a strong case for why machine builders and their customers should make the most of this.

Finally, I didn't make space to mention this last month, so now's my chance to welcome Aaron Hand, our new managing editor, to the team. Aaron comes to us after a lengthy stay at the Semiconductor International brand after earlier journalistic trade publication assignments in the U.S. and Hong Kong. Aaron's hit the ground running and he'll have much to do with our brand's success moving forward. He'll heartily welcome your thoughts, ideas and contributions toward that end.

Mike? Well, Mike Bacidore is now the editor in chief at sibling Plant Services. I highly valued Mike's three years here and would have been delighted to keep him, but you can't stand in the way when a well-deserved opportunity for growth presents itself to a staff member. I know he'll do a terrific job there.