To Know the Future, Look to the Past


MTConnect® - the open standard for connecting manufacturing equipment, devices, and software


Russ Waddell, managing director for the MTConnect Institute, posits that we can predict the future success of the MTConnect® open standard—developed to foster interoperability between manufacturing equipment, devices, and software—by looking at the history of internet interoperability.

Take a quick trip down memory lane. Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf develop the TCP/IP protocol (1973), Tim Berners-Lee invents HTML (1990), Netscape battles Explorer in the browser wars of ’95, 20 million people subscribe to AOL dial-up modem service, and the World Wide Web (we spelled it out back then) became a daily tool. 

“The lessons for the MTConnect standard are that having more companies foster interoperable technologies will accelerate digital manufacturing success,” says Waddell. “The new MT360  event will provide a forum for the technologists and investors of Silicon Valley to collaborate with established and start-up manufacturing companies.” MT360 takes place May 12 – 14, 2020 at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, Calif. (Register at

Just a decade ago (The MTConnect standard debuted at IMTS 2008), the average manufacturing executive asked, “But what would I do with data?” Today the executive is asking, “How can I get that data?” The answer is, of course, through interoperable devices developed for a discrete parts manufacturing environment—a world ripe for new product development.

To spark conversation at its exhibit in the Virtual Factory at MT360, the MTConnect Institute will feature a desktop CNC connected to a single-board PC running an MTConnect agent. A mobile app will display basic data such as position, alarms, and tool data. 

“The planners and leaders, who have responsibility for product development, can see some of the technologies and equipment required for interoperability,” says Waddell. The demo also shows executives the roles they need to organize, which include those of an engineer, operator, project manager, network administrator, and app developer.

Connected for Cause

All proceeds from MT360 will support the MTConnect Institute, a not-for-profit standards development organization for the MTConnect standard. Its membership is made up of more than 400 companies and research organizations in discrete manufacturing including automotive, aerospace, medical, and other industries as well as software developers supporting those industries. Membership is free and open to anyone with a stake in the MTConnect standard.

Through its work, previously disconnected, disparate applications, and devices can now be interconnected to take advantage of standardized data and information. This allows manufacturing applications to truly optimize production with significant increases in operational efficiency. 

Waddell notes that the chief architect of the MTConnect standard, Will Sobel, will speak at MT360, delivering a presentation in the Tech Theatre titled, Industrial AI Platforms–Beyond Machine Learning and Addressing Causality. Sobel is chief strategy officer and co-founder of VIMANA, the leading industrial AI platform for discrete manufacturing. 

*The MTConnect Institute is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit subsidiary of AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology. The MTConnect Institute, as the standards development organization for the MTConnect standard, is one way that AMT shapes the future of global manufacturing. AMT produces IMTS – The International Manufacturing Technology Show, the largest and longest running manufacturing technology trade show in the United States held every other year at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill. IMTS 2020 will run Sept. 14-19.