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Mazak’s iSMART Factories Empower Data-Driven Manufacturing

Category: IMTS Network Jun 24, 2021


Mazak’s iSMART Factory was developed as a model for implementing the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) in all metalworking manufacturing companies. The production strategy is based on the concept of data-driven manufacturing, which calls for advanced manufacturing cells and systems to be fully integrated digitally to achieve free-flow data sharing for process control and monitoring throughout operations.

The first Mazak iSMART Factory pilot started at its plant and U.S. headquarters in Florence, Kentucky, in 2015. Mazak then implemented the concept at its global headquarters in Oguchi, Japan, in 2017 and at its Singapore factory in 2017. A new production facility that featured the iSmart Factory became operational in 2018 in Inabe, Japan, and in Mazak’s latest iSMART Factory located in Worcester, UK, where the existing plant was upgraded to iSMART Factory status.

A model of state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, automation, and advanced manufacturing practices, the many benefits of the iSMART Factory include significant increases in machine utilization, shorter throughput times, elimination of non-value-added operations, production-on-demand capability, and more efficient part machining.

Mazak’s iSmart Factory solutions include remote customer troubleshooting. Mazak employees Baylea Williams and Michael Edlin demonstrate how they help customers in remote locations evaluate issues using a mixed reality device.

Although not all manufacturers are as large as Mazak, it is worth learning more about the success of this model and ways that across-the-board automation through data-driven operations can bring benefits to production.

The MTConnect® (ANSI/MTC1.4-2018) open communications protocol is used in all iSMART Factories to provide connectivity between machines and the capability to monitor, then harvest, data from different production-floor machines, cells, devices, and processes in each plant. The standard provides semantic vocabulary for manufacturing equipment that enables structured, contextualized data with no proprietary format. This uniform data allows all equipment and devices to communicate seamlessly without the need to translate data protocols. Data sources can include machine tools, production equipment, sensors, sensor controllers, and other factory hardware. Mazak is not the only manufacturer to use MTConnect. The standard is currently used on more than 50,000 devices in more than 50 countries, on thousands of software solutions developed by more than 300 machine builders, integrators, and end-users.

Automation in the Mazak iSMART Factory improves the productivity, reliability, and repeatability in manufacturing.

All of Mazak’s iSMART Factories feature 5-axis machining capability, multitasking machining, and advanced automation that integrates different machines within the same cell. Through PCs, smartphones, and other devices, both management and manufacturing personnel can access the same real-time manufacturing data to improve overall productivity efficiency and responsiveness to customer and market changes.

To explore Mazak's U.S. iSMART factory, a 360-degree Virtual Campus Tour is available online that showcases the iSMART Factory, the National Technology Center, and the North American Parts Center & Spindle Rebuild. Covering the entirety of the Kentucky facility’s production line – from laser processing and welding to modular and final assembly – it features narration, 360-degree video, and virtual reality functionality. Watch it at https://www.MazakUSA.com/virtual-tour.

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