Creative Compliance?

TAMS effort to Tame the Wild in the Industrial IoT Data Circus
By John Murphy, TAMS CEO
27 Dec 2023


In the world of Industrial IoT, it's time we addressed the elephant in the connected machine shop: the widespread misinterpretation in the implementation of the MTConnect standard. While MTConnect has gained incredibly adoption over the last 15 years, it seems many have treated it as a standard that is open to interpretation and a bit of creative license. Just so we are all clear right from the get-go: it's not, and the impact of non-compliance is likely a bigger problem than we all currently realize.

The Aerospace Analogy: A Matter of Standards and Safety

Imagine a supplier tasked with providing a critical component for an aircraft. Instead of rigorously following the material specifications, they interpret the guidelines 'creatively.' This is the current landscape of MTConnect implementation: a world where the standards are seen more as vague guidelines than rigorous requirements. In aerospace, such an approach would be unthinkable; the same rigor must start to be applied to industrial data standards.

Data Lakes or Swamps of Uncertainty?

In the aerospace analogy, using subpar materials risks aircraft integrity. Similarly, when enterprises feed their vast data lakes with non-compliant MTConnect data, they're essentially jeopardizing the entire system's integrity. Like an aircraft with compromised parts, these data lakes become unreliable, risking costly failures at critical moments.

When enterprises push this 'creatively interpreted' data into vast data lakes, it could be compared to pouring questionable ingredients into a stew. The stew gets bigger, the ingredients get weirder, and no one's quite sure if it's edible anymore. The integrity of these data lakes today, representing enormously expensive assets, is questionable at best. Unfortunately, the true impact of this issue may only become apparent when critical data is needed and can't be found. That data having long disappeared into the abyss of a vast data swamp.

Even more concerning and likely is when such data is located but offers results that are almost certainly flawed. Yet, despite these questionable results, decisions may still proceed under the mistaken belief, by management or maybe your boss, that the data is MTConnect so it must be reliable. You might have serious concerns about its integrity and the results, but you don’t want to risk your job by raising your concerns because it’s your data lake and your responsibility.

TAMS: The Quality Assurance of Data Integrity

At TAMS, we approach MTConnect compliance with the same seriousness as an aerospace engineer regards material specifications. Our Model-Aware™ solutions and online validators are the quality assurance checks in the world of Industrial IoT, ensuring that every piece of data adheres to the MTConnect standards information model as strictly as aerospace materials comply with their specifications.

Think of our Model-Aware™ development methodology and validation tools as having a stern English teacher overlooking your data's grammar, ensuring every comma and full stop is in place. But we simplified passing that very difficult class by giving everyone a toolkit that makes getting an A+ automatic. Our online validator is the equivalent of a no-nonsense grammar check for your IoT data. And our Model-Aware™ MTConnect Adapters are not just compliant; they're the valedictorians of data integrity.

The SysML Shift

With the MTConnect Institute adopting SysML in version 1.8+ and making it the holy grail in version 2.0+, we're going to be pushing the industry to embrace a paradigm shift in Industrial IoT development. The combination of the MTConnects SysML Model and the MTConnect.Transpiler project, developed by TAMS in collaboration with the MTConnect institute, enables software development that is like getting an experienced Co-Pilot that memorized every word of the operator manual for an aircraft. Our Model-Aware™ AdapterSdk has memorized every line of the SysML XMI and this framework thrives in this environment, making the device data model creation as easy as pie - and who doesn't like pie?

The Industry Illusion: Data Transmission vs. Data Integration

Much of the problem of Non-Compliance is the result of many in the industry treating the MTConnect Agent like a postal service for XML data, overlooking its true role as an orchestrator of “data to information” translation. This misinterpretation is widespread and transcends Industry into academic research as many academic research publications describe MTConnect as a “read-only standard for data transmission from manufacturing equipment” contradicting the original research published at UC Berkley that’s described MTConnect as a “standard based on an open protocol for data integration, not data transmission or data use”.

A Call to Action: Read, Implement, Validate

It's time to stop the game of whispers and start reading – really reading – the MTConnect standard. Whether your in Industry or Academia if you haven't read a significant amount of the standards documentation you really might not know it and may be unknowingly contributing the this widespead problem. When you do read it and know it, implement it with the reverence it deserves. And validate like your business or job depends on it, because, well, in the future it very well may. It's not just about following the rules; it's about understanding and implementing them to the letter – something that's non-negotiable in aerospace manufacturing and needs to be non-negotiable in Industrial IoT.

TAMS Promise: A Future of Clarity

At TAMS, we're not just building Model-Aware™ platforms, adapters and validators; we're building a future where data integrity in Industrial IoT isn’t an afterthought. It's the foundation. We're committed to bridging the disconnect between current practices and the MTConnect ideal and doing so in the open-source arena as much as possible to ensure that the entire Industry can move beyond these issues and benefit from a future Industrial IoT where it doesn't just seem correct based on someone’s assumptions or past work, but it’s always correct based on fact. Let's stop just making things up and start making things right.


In conclusion, the Industrial IoT world is at a crossroads. We can either continue making things up as we go, or we can embrace the standards and practices that will lead us to a future of reliable, meaningful data integration. At TAMS, we're choosing the latter, and we invite you to join us on this journey towards a clearer, more efficient industrial future. An ideal IoT future is one where its either compliant MTConnect or it’s not considered MTConnect at all.

Author: John J. Murphy, Founder & CEO at TAMS

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