Software Features

Getting Real-time Visibility On Laser Processes

MTConnect® is a communication standard used in the manufacturing industry for reporting the current status of a machine tool. MTConnect is an open protocol for integrating machine data into various ERP and manufacturing floor software applications where real-time or near real-time information is being reported. MTConnect will not interfere with the workpiece processing but rather streams the machine parameters through the MTConnect agent to plant management software.

The standard strives toward supporting a plug-and-play environment to reduce the cost of integration associated with real-time machines status reporting. It is built upon more prevalent standards within the manufacturing and software industry. The MTConnect standard defines a common interface supporting the ability to transfer data via a standard protocol which includes:

  • A device identity (i.e. model number, serial number, calibration data, etc.).
  • The identity of all the independent components of the device.
  • A possible device’s design characteristics (i.e. axis length, maximum speeds, device thresholds, etc.).
  • Most importantly, data captured in real or near-real-time (i.e. current speed, position data, temperature data, program block, etc.) by a device that can be utilized by other devices or applications (e.g. utilized by maintenance diagnostic systems, management production information systems, CAM products, etc.).

The types of data that may need to be addressed in MTConnect includes:

  • Physical and actual device design data
  • Measurement or calibration data
  • Near-real-time data from the device

The S94P software supports MTConnect and will automatically connect to any MTConnect® reporting software package that requests a connection, and stream the current state of the machine to it. The process is designed to be seamless, with no input required from the machine operator.

The data stream may be monitored from the MTConnect screen in the Maint94P application (see figure 1).

Figure 1: The MTConnect® Screen

The reporting software packages require setup files which are unique to each machine. These files may be generated from the MTConnect screen by pressing the “Make Config File” and “Make Device File” buttons. The files are stored in the MTConnect subfolder in the c:\cnc-share\system folder.

The data variable/parameter which are streamed and through the agent are identified in Table 1. Any of these variables can be reported and used to help monitor and improve the laser processes.

Data Variable Definition Units
Program name The name of the program in execution text string
Program in operation state If the machine is currently executing a program (Ready/Active) value
Program running state The current execution of the program (Ready/Stopped/Active/Completed) value
Machine power on time Accumulated time of the machine running (processing a workpiece) seconds
E-Stop state Has machine hit and maximum movement of the axis. (Value: Armed/Disarmed) value
Control ON state State of the axis drives on/off
Program name The name of the program in execution text string
Program in operation state If the machine is currently executing a program (Ready/Active) value
Program running state The current execution of the program (value states: Ready/Stopped/Active/Completed) value
Program checksum The checksum of the NC text Hex Number
Axes strokes (X, Y, Z, C, D, A, B, U) The physical processing length of each axis (X, Y, Z) millimeters
(C, D, A, B, U) degrees
Axes commanded positions Commanded axis positions (X, Y, Z) millimeters
(C, D, A, B, U) degrees
Axes actual positions Actual axis positions (X, Y, Z) millimeters
(C, D, A, B, U) degrees
Feedrate commanded The commanded path speed millimeter/second
Feedrate actual The actual path speed millimeter/second
Feedrate override The current setting of the feed rate override knob. percentage
Laser ready state If the laser is ready for use on/off
Laser shutter enabled state If the laser shutter is enabled on/off
Laser shutter state The current state of laser shutter on/off
Laser beam state If the laser is creating a laser beam on/off
Laser power commanded Reports the commanded laser power from the laser unit watts
Laser power actual Reports the actual laser power from the laser unit (measured by the laser unit at the input to the feed fiber) watts
Gas port states The state of the gas ports on/off
Gas pressure commanded The commanded gas pressure at the gas valve pounds/inch2
Gas pressure actual The actual gas pressure at the gas valve pounds/inch2
Focus sensor type Which type of sensor is presently enabled AFC/OFC
Focus sensor state If the enabled sensor is active on/off
Focus sensor position error The sensor position error from nominal millimeters
Lens number The number of the selected lens integer
Error numbers The numbers of the active errors integer
Warning numbers The numbers of the active warnings integer

Table 1: MTConnect variables for the LASERDYNE® systems

By using MTConnect to monitor a given set of machine parameters, one can gather real-time updates on job-status, run parameters, down-time, and machine information which can be used to make the overall plant, machines, and maintenance more efficient.

If you are interested in the learning more about using MTConnect with your LASERDYNE® system, please contact lds.sales@primapower.com.

References: MTConnect Standard Parts 1-5, MTConnect Institute, March 2018
MTConnect is a registered trademark of AMT – Association for Manufacturing Technology.

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