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MTConnect is a protocol designed for the exchange of data between shop floor equipment and software applications used for monitoring and collecting data. MTConnect is not only a protocol, but a communication standard built around Internet communication technologies.
MTConnect incorporates a multi-layered design allowing for greater flexibility and interoperability. There are three components needed for MTConnect to provide data: the MTConnect Adapter, the MTConnect Agent, and an application.
Despite the name, the Adapter is typically software, not hardware. The Adapter software is usually installed on the CNC control and is what acquires the data from the equipment. The Adapter is usually provided by the machine tool builder. As the Adapter acquires data it provides the information to the Agent.
The Agent can be thought of as a relay between the Adapter and software applications. The Agent may be installed on the CNC control or a separate Windows based PC. The Agent receives data from the Adapter and makes that data available to client software applications.
The MTConnect Agent is the connection point for DataXchange. Full details on MTConnect Agents can be found in the MTConnect specification documentation.
The MTConnect Agent will request information from the MTConnect Adapter based on what has been defined in the Agent’s XML file. The XML file will define Data Items such as EXECUTION, PROGRAM, or ALARM which provide information to each of the associated items. In order for DataXchange to be able to acquire data, the appropriate Data Items must be defined in the Agent’s XML configuration file. The name of the XML file is defined in the agent.cfg file.
The agent.cfg file determines the name of the XML file and the TCP port that the Agent will utilize for communication with DataXchange, along with address and port information on how to communicate with the Adapter. The port information for the Agent in the cfg file must match the port defined in DataXchange.