Burlington firm joins in a collaborative partnership with two heavyweights in manufacturing and communications

October 21, 2015

Memex, a Burlington company that got a loan from the federal government to expand its operation is now part of it collaborative partnership that has joined with two very large corporations to make greater use of The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

The Internet of Things, known as IIoT, has been bubbling away in the background for some time – it is now very real for MEMEX who have partnered with the Mazak Corporation and Cisco to showcase MERLIN software from MEMEX Inc.

The Internet of Things basically gives anything an internet address – which becomes the communications backbone that moves information in real time.

The collaborative platform called SmartBox, developed by Mazak, is an industry-first launch platform for easy and highly secure entrance into the Industrial Internet of Things. SmartBox builds on MEMEX’s strategic partnership with Mazak Corp., which earlier this year named MEMEX to its exclusive Value Inspired Partner (VIP) program.

What follows is pretty technical and won’t mean much to most people – but it is very relevant to the economy the city wants to develop. This technology results in those high-tech, high paying jobs the city wants to attract.

“The SmartBox collaboration realizes the IIoT vision on the factory floor,” said MEMEX’s CEO David McPhail. “We’re thrilled to be participating in this powerful combination with Mazak and Cisco. As well as MERLIN software, we are contributing our easy-to-deploy Ax760 hardware adapters to SmartBox. They enable every machine on the shop floor, old or new, to become web servers that utilize the MTConnect® manufacturing communication standard.”

Using MTConnect® as its foundation, SmartBox connectivity of machines and devices allows for enhanced monitoring and analytical capabilities including advanced cyber security protection. SmartBox represents a huge leap in digital integration across manufacturing.

“With the development of SmartBox, Mazak continues to drive toward its iSMART Factory concept and connecting today’s shops to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to achieve levels of efficiency and productivity never before realized,” said Brian Papke, President of Mazak. “And while our concept centers around open connectivity and the Internet, we at Mazak believe it is our moral obligation to also provide customers the highest level of security possible with SmartBox. As with all the technology we develop, Mazak has first implemented SmartBox into our own operations before expecting customers to wholeheartedly embrace the system.”

Mazak developed SmartBox to work with any machine regardless of make, model or age and will offer it in various configurations/kits based on the scenarios and challenges in which the units will be used. The device physically mounts to the side of machines without having to integrate into a machine’s electrical cabinet. With several standard input/output connecting ports, SmartBox lets users quickly and easily connect any standard off-the-shelf sensors to the system for machine data gathering and condition monitoring. One SmartBox may service several machine tools along with other associated manufacturing equipment, depending on the application.

At the heart of SmartBox is Cisco’s Connected Machines solution, based on the IoT System, designed specifically for industrial environments and equipped with an MTConnect software agent. Using a fog computing model, MTConnect runs directly on the ruggedized Cisco Industrial Ethernet (IE) 4000 switch, providing MERLIN software’s real-time visibility and insights into data right on the factory floor.

MEMEX’s MERLIN software installed in Mazak’s factory allows for monitoring analytics of machines, test stands and other equipment within the plant. The Cisco hardware is designed to help prevent any issues with unauthorized access from both directions – to or from the machines and equipment within a network. SmartBox satisfies the highly critical security concerns of IT departments when connecting legacy equipment to a plant’s main network for the purpose of gathering manufacturing data via the MTConnect protocol.

MEMEX Inc. is a leading Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology platform provider that connects to any machine and delivers real-time manufacturing productivity metrics. Industrial strength MERLIN software provides Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) efficiency metrics in real time, from shop floor to top floor. MERLIN connects to any machine, old or new, utilizing MTConnect, other protocols or hardware adapters.

The MERLIN magic delivers a 10% to 50% average productivity increase so that any manufacturer can achieve world-class standards of excellence. Based on just a 10% increase in OEE, customers see profit improvements of 20%-plus and payback in less than four months.

What does all this mean to Burlington?

During the federal election Prime Minister Harper announced that an Advanced Manufacturing Hub would be built in the city – tied in in some way to McMaster University’s de Groote campus on the south Service Road.

Dave McPhail works assiduously developing relationships – he has been working on a collaborative approach with Cisco for some time – that seems to have worked out well for the company.

Mike Wallace took part in an announcement that put a cheque for $899,000 on the table allowing MEMEX to expand their operations in Burlington. So far that federal loan appears to be doing what it was intended to do.

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