Q&A: Discussing the Industrial Internet of Things with David McPhail, CEO, MEMEX

Jennifer Rideout | Content Subject Matter Expert Manufacturing, Energy & Education | Cisco |April 3, 2017

The manufacturing industry is undergoing a significant shift in how products are made. Cyber-physical systems, made possible by the introduction of a secure IT network to the shop floor, are creating new ways for manufacturers to monitor, analyze and automate processes. The result? Manufacturers are spending less money, while making more, on the factory floor.

At the heart of these cyber-physical systems is MEMEX, a Canadian software and hardware provider based in Burlington, ON. I sat down recently with David McPhail, CEO of MEMEX, to discuss the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), MEMEX’s latest solution and his advice for Canadian manufacturers.

Part one of our conversation is below. Watch this space for part two in the coming days.

Jennifer Rideout: For readers not familiar with MEMEX, describe your company for us.

David McPhail, CEO, MEMEX

David McPhail, CEO, MEMEX

David McPhail, CEO, MEMEX: Established in 1992, MEMEX was founded with a vision to improve the way automated machine and production equipment work and connect on the factory floor. Since then MEMEX has proved itself a pioneer in IIoT time and again.

With a comprehensive understanding of the manufacturing industry, we are the global leader in machine to machine connectivity solutions. We have been on the leading-edge of the convergence of industrial trends in Computing Power, Connectivity of Machines, Industry Standards, Advance Software Technology and Manufacturing Domain Expertise.

We are also the developer of MERLIN, an award-winning IIoT technology platform that delivers tangible increases in manufacturing productivity in Real-Time. As a company, we are committed to our mission: “successfully transforming factories of today into factories of the future.”

Encouraged by the rapid adoption and success of MERLIN, we relentlessly pursue the development of increasingly innovative solutions suitable for the IIoT era. Our company envisions converting every machine into a node on the corporate network, creating visibility from shop-floor-to-top-floor.

JR: Tell me more about your solution, MERLIN. What value does it offer manufacturers?

DM: MEMEX’s software and hardware IIoT solution enable customers to achieve tangible IIoT-centric business outcomes. Our MERLIN software suite and connectivity products has enabled manufacturers to achieve upwards of a 50% increase in productivity and a 20%-plus increase in profit, on average. Additionally customers have secured payback in less than four months, which equates to an Internal Rate of Return greater than 300 per cent.

MERLIN provides manufacturing analytics that enable the effective execution of continuous improvement initiatives in real-time. This allows the entire plant operations to be Lean. Furthermore, MERLIN creates the opportunity for a dramatic increase in Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) based on accurate real-time information collected over a communication network connecting all machines, old and new.

MERLIN is the essential link that allows manufacturers to connect machines together in a cost-effective and secure fashion. And it does so while ensuring machines, either in a single plant or multiple plants, are consistently reporting performance data in real-time to all stakeholders – from the shop-floor to the top-floor.

JR: On that note, you recently introduced a new product. How does that build on your existing solutions?

DM: At IMTS 2016, we announced the launch of MERLIN Tempus™ and MERLIN Tempus Enterprise Edition (EE), the next generation of our award-winning MERLIN Manufacturing Execution System (MES).

MERLIN Tempus offers a new generation of tools and a dynamic configurable web-enabled dashboard that provides a complete view of the shop floor. The Enterprise Edition offers complete OEE calculations and other critical metrics, along with a dynamic visual job scheduler. It also empowers customers to seamlessly incorporate future Smart Manufacturing technologies as a part of the overall MERLIN platform.

We developed MERLIN Tempus as an extremely flexible out-of-the-box packaged platform/tool kit solution that is proven, comprehensive and complete with no custom programming required. Additionally, the system includes a robust reporting engine that offers an unlimited number of slice-and-dice data reports, automated report scheduling, and real-time machine alerts via email or SMS.

This translates into fast, low-cost implementation, easy-to-understand OEE metrics, and a rapid ROI.

Watch this space for part two of our conversation, where David will talk about how to simplify the IIoT for factory operators and share his advice for Canadian manufacturers.

To view the original blog click here

Thanks Tim Edstrom

Outstanding Software Developer – Summer Internship at Memex Inc.

Today is Tim Edstrom’s last day as a summer intern for Memex Inc. Tim started for MEMEX the latter part of May in a 30 hours per week position as a software developer. Tim was up here the latter part of May to meet everyone and then worked remote.

Tim is a very bright young developer who did an outstanding job working on a future software package for our MERLIN Manufacturing Executive System (MES) platform. The software package Tim worked on will be a first in the industry piece of software.

Tim is finishing up his BS in Computer Science at James Madison University this year and will graduate in May of 2017.

Huge thanks to Tim for doing a great job for MEMEX’s Software Development Group!

Below are a few photos of Tim in his remote office with the crystal globe that we had created to show a token of our appreciation, as well as the MEMEX Development group lunch that occurred when Tim was in the MEMEX office during his May visit.


Above is the crystal globe that states, “In Recognition of Outstanding Software Development Presented To Tim Edstrom 2016”

We have a tradition of making the interns/co-ops ( James and Gaurav ) wear the famous Montana’s of Canada horns 🙂

Above is the extremely talented Memex DEV Team. From left to right is Ryan, Brian, Doug, Tim, Tim S., Jeremy, Dave, Terry and Anusha (not pictured is Gowtham who was on vacation and Ken who is in Woodstock).  Tim learned a great deal from the MEMEX DEV team.

Best of luck Tim!

Smarten Up

April 2016, Machine Metrics | Quality, Kip Hanson

When I started on the shop foor, machine tools were dumb. Communication levels weren’t determined by protocols or baud rates but by which machinist could yell the loudest. NC programs were loaded from paper tape, tool offsets made with a hammer, and part quality results recorded on handwritten forms.

What a change a few decades make. Today’s technology allows shops to monitor virtually every aspect of production, from what tools were changed yesterday to how many minutes the spindles sat idle last week to what jobs are running on which machines right now. So much has changed, in fact, that some say the next industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, is upon us.

Getting everyone on the same page

One proponent of this revolution is David McPhail, president of industrial communications platform provider Memex Inc., in Burlington, ON, who counts Mazak Corp. among key global customers for the company’s flagship product, Merlin. McPhail points to data driven manufacturing and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) as two examples of the technology companies can leverage to improve productivity and part quality, if only they have the will to overcome fear of the unknown.

“Change of any kind is hard, especially when people don’t understand the technology behind it,” he says. “But when someone thinks to themselves, ‘if I don’t do anything, then there’s no risk,’ it brings about the worst kind of paralysis. Manufacturing companies must learn to embrace technology if they are to gain a competitive advantage.”

Those advantages are numerous. Lights out production, shorter lead times, improved tool life—the list goes on. One often-overlooked benefit of integrated machine communication is better part quality, says McPhail.

Click here to read more: Smarten Up

The Three “A”s of MTConnect – the Adapter, Agent and Application

Dave Edstrom, CTO of MEMEX Inc., explains the three “A”s of MTConnect in his blog.

As the former President and Chairman of the Board of the MTConnect Institute, I have given this 10 minute presentation countless number of times to explain the Three “A”s of MTConnect – the Adapter, Agent and Application.

As a reminder, MTConnect is the open, royalty-free manufacturing communications protocol which fosters greater interoperability between manufacturing devices and software. The MTConnect standard provides connectivity and the capability to monitor and then harvest data from the entire production floor: machines, cells, devices, and processes. The standard makes this possible, because its based on XML and HTTP Internet technology for real-time data sharing.

The adapter is the piece of software and/or hardware that sits between the device itself, such as a machine tool, sensor, compressor, any MTConnect enabled device, and the agent.  The adapter needs to speak the specific language that the device understands and then convert that to SHDR (Simple Hierarchical Data Representation – a simple time stamped human readable stream separated by “|” symbols as delimiters.  The information is sent continuously from the device to the adapter and then to the agent. Please note that the SHDR protocol is not officially part of the MTConnect spec, but in reality, almost all of the adapters use SHDR to speak to the reference agent. The reference agent is the agent that is out at http://github.com/MTConnect that almost all of the implementations out there today use as their agent.

The agent can be thought of as a simple web server that on one side talks to the adapter and the other side talks to applications.  The agent is what translates the SHDR and makes it available in MTConnect (XML) format via http (how you access any webpage on the web today such as ESPN.com). The agent responds to simple commands from the apps or applications such as probe, current, sample or asset as examples.  The agent has a circular buffer for storing the data that is coming from the adapter.  Typically this is about 10 minutes of data.

The app or applications can be anything that wants to get information from the agent on what the MTConnect enabled device is doing.  Typically, the app is a shop floor monitoring app such as MERLIN.  Apps query the agent and typically store that information into a database as well as make that info available in dashboards, reports, email alerts and countless other ways.

I think these 10 minutes should give you a very nice overview of how MTConnect works and a deeper dive on what happens under the covers for MTConnect with the Adapter, Agent and Application.

As I stated in the webcast, you can learn more here

To view Dave Edstrom’s blog, please click here.

Thank you Gaurav!

On Tuesday April 21, 2015, we were able to thank and recognize or software developer co-op student at Memex Automation, Gaurav Chaudhari, from the University of Waterloo.

Gaurav is very bright and a gifted software developer who worked for us this past winter in a full time co-op position as a software developer.  In the months that Gaurav was with the Memex Software Development Team, he managed to work on a number of important projects for us.  Gaurav helped create and develop software for our future MERLIN 3.0 Manufacturing Execution System (MES) platform in a number of areas, including the auto report scheduler, dashboard utilities, visual job queue, slide show and job editor.

We want to thank Gaurav for his outstanding work and we wish him all the best!

Love from,

The Memex Team

Gaurav02Gaurav, with his special Memex Automation memento, for all the hard work he put in.

Gaurav01In Recognition of Outstanding Software Development, Presented to Gaurav Chaudhari 2015

Gaurav03The Development Team took Gaurav out to a celebratory lunch.
Looks like they had a great time!

Cisco Joined MTConnect as a Technical Advisor Group Member in March 2015

Dave Edstrom, CTO Memex Automation, blogs about the good news of Cisco joining MTConnect as a technical advisor.

This is GREAT news for MTConnect and the world of manufacturing!

Image result for cisco logo image

Note: I received permission from Cisco to both use their logo and and to state Cisco joined MTConnect.

Cisco’s Bryce Barnes is also presenting at [MC]2 2015 and below is from the MTConnect Conference web page.

MTConnect: Connecting Manufacturing Conference, April 28-30, 2015 — McCormick Place, Chicago, IL

Making the IOT a Reality and the Role of MTConnect

“Cisco leads the world in networking technology and coined the term the Internet of Things (IoT). Cisco CEO John Chambers has stated that the IoT market will generate an astounding $14 trillion in value over the next decade. As a September 2014 Network World article stated, “IoT is the intelligent connectivity of smart devices, expected to drive massive gains in efficiency, business growth and quality of life. In other words, when objects can sense each other and communicate, it changes how and where and who makes decisions about our physical world.” MTConnect is an enabling technology for IoT in manufacturing. Cisco as a new member of the MTConnect Institute is looking to participate in the rapidly growing community of Machine Builders and manufacturers who find tremendous value in the MTConnect model. In this talk, Bryce Barnes will discuss Cisco’s IoT and manufacturing vision, real life examples of IoT, and the value of MTConnect to manufacturing in this rapidly converging world of connected things.”

To view Dave Edstrom’s blog, please click here.

Thank you James!

All the employees at Memex Automation would like to take a minute to thank and recognize our very first software developer co-op student, James Li, from the University of Waterloo.

James started for us this past fall in a full time co-op position as a software developer.  In the months that James was with the Memex Software Development Team, he managed to work on number of critical projects for us. James setup a new world-class continuous testing environment, created a configuration and capacity testing tool for MERLIN that allows us to properly gauge unlimited workloads as well as wrote numerous pieces of software for our future MERLIN 3.0 Manufacturing Executive System (MES) platform such as security modules, software metric widgets and many other impressive pieces of software.  Not only did he complete every task he was given ahead of schedule, but these assignments were extremely well designed and well written, and he did so with such enthusiasm that it was an absolute joy to have him on our team.

James Li is a talented young man and we very proud to say he was our first co-op student at Memex Automation!

We wish James all the best!  (And sincerely hope that he comes back full time!)

Love from,
The Memex Team

IMG_2076James, with his special Memex Automation memento, for all the hard work he put in.

IMG_2074In Recognition of Outstanding Software Development, Presented to James Li

IMG_2072The Development Team took James out to a celebratory lunch.
Looks like they had a great time!

David McPhail Inteviewed at FabTech on Manufacturing Talk Radio

David McPhail did a great interview at FabTech last week on Wednesday the 12th on Manufacturing Talk Radio! 

David does a fantastic job educating the hosts on MTConnect as well as Memex Automation’s ability to talk to ANYTHING on the shop floor. David puts everything in the language that everyone inside or outside of manufacturing can easily understand and appreciate.  David talks about MTConnect at the beginning and really gets into specifics at the end of the interview.

I thought the interviewers did an outstanding job in the types of questions asked as well as the follow up questions.

David starts speaking at the 129 minute mark on Wednesday.  David’s segment is about 25 minutes in length.

David brings out a very important metric.  If you ask a shop or plant what their utilization is, invariably they will state something in the area of 65%.  When you actually come in and measure it, the number is more like 27% to 32%  That is a HUGE difference! As David states, “if you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it.”

To visit Dave Edstrom’s blog, please click here.

IMTS 2014 Huge Sucess for Memex Automation!

Dave Edstrom gives a recap of the incredibly successful IMTS 2014 from his blog Photons and Electrons.

Memex on IMTS TV

Below was the view from our booth to Lake Michigan.  We had the fountain in the middle, food on the left and beer on the right.  THE best location of ALL the 1,900 exhibitors!

The first person I must thank is Wanda Smith (Tim Smith of Memex Automation’s wife) who is an Executive Chef and came to the two houses we rented to cook for us.  Wanda made AMAZING MEALS!  Even though we were spending 12 to 14 hours a day on our feet, I STILL GAINED weight thanks to Wanda’s incredible cooking!
Above is the Memex Automation booth at IMTS E-3368 at IMTS 2014. We built it and broke it down ourselves.
It must be said that what makes ALL OF THIS POSSIBLE, is the GREAT hardware and software developers at Memex Automation that busted their butts around the clock to make this a reality!
Above and below was a typical day at IMTS 2014 with TONS-O-People waiting to speak to us.

It was like this the ENTIRE time.  It was amazing the amount of interest that we had in all of hardware and software products.

We introduced the Ax760-MTC which is for any Fanuc Controller with Serial I/O Link
  • A quick and easy way to find and monitor signals from your machine
  • The Ax760–MTC is a fully configurable MTConnect  hardware adapter that allows you to communicate with your CNC as never before!
  • Enhance your oldest legacy controllers to today’s communications functionality, and it’s simple to install with webserver based configuration.
  • Passive listening, non-intrusive installation

Above is Whitney Brown of AMT interviewing me for IMTS-TV and she is speaking with David McPhail below.

Above we are taking customers and prospects through our Technology Preview of hardware and software products through the end of the year and well into 2015.  Everyone was very impressed!Above is Peter Eelman’s IMTS balloon that he purchased that is always at IMTS.Above is me holding the Oculus Rift.

Above is my getting ready to use the Oculus Rift.Above is me actually using the Oculus Rift and nearly following over.  Interesting technology.  It is not quite yet ready for prime time IMHO.


Above is Dave McPhail getting ready to use the Oculus Rift.

Above is Dave McPhail using the Oculus Rift.
Above is me, Joel Neidig of ITAMCO and Dave McPhail.  Joel is the Michael Jordan of Manufacturing – a true rock star!Above is the world’s largest 3D printer that was printing an entire car out of carbon fibre at IMTS 2014Here is Doug Woods, President of AMT, driving it off the platform.

Above is the world’s first subtractive/additive machine tool at the DMG Mori-Seiki booth.
Above is me Dave McPhail, Neil Desrosiers of Mazak and Doug Woods President of AMT in front of the MTConnect booth at Mazak where they were also showing our MERLIN product.
Above is the key slide on one of the products that we were showing in the Okuma booth – our DNC product using Okuma’s THINC API.  Brian Sides gave us a an area where we could show off our close relationship with Okuma.  It was great for us to be in the Okuma booth!  We also showed off our MERLIN product as well.On Saturday afternoon (the last day of show) things slow down so Dave McPhail took advantage of the the slow down to checkout out some of the cool stuff at IMTS 2014.Above is a Fanuc robot moving a car frame around like it was 3 pounds.It was very cool that Kalesh, Asim and Ian of the MTInsight stopped by our booth.  The MTInsight guys are kicking butt and taking names with the best customized business intelligence platform on planet earth.IMTS 2014 was record breaking and could NOT have gone any better for Memex Automation!

Mazak uses MERLIN MES and MTConnect at Kentucky plant

Our friends at Automation.com picked up the Mazak uses MERLIN MES and MTConnect at Kentucky plant success story.

This is a fantastic example of how our technology at Memex Automation is transforming manufacturing.

Below are a few snippets.  Here is the opening:

“July 28, 2014 – The American manufacturing renaissance is in motion at Mazak’s plant in Florence, Kentucky with the help of MERLIN (Manufacturing Execution Real-time Lean Information Network) from Memex Automation. MERLIN is a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications platform that quickly and cost-effectively isolates productivity issues so everyone from the shop floor to the top floor is able to understand what must be done to maximize efficiency.”

Below is a quote from a true thought leader in manufacturing and MTConnect,  Brian Papke, President of Mazak:

“Mazak’s IT department started the efficiency drive by implementing the MTConnect protocol to accurately determine machine availability by using Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) as a standard measurement. “This total embrace of MTConnect is intended to make a statement,” said Brian Papke, President of Mazak, who personally drove the project. “We want to be a leader in both promoting and implementing MTConnect.  We want our example to show the importance of moving toward data-driven manufacturing.  MTConnect is an essential part of what makes data-driven manufacturing possible.”

It’s a GREAT article and below shows how well Memex Automation did in the selection process:

“Ben Schawe, Vice President of Manufacturing, began the hunt for a commercially available software package that could produce meaningful reports that both production and management teams could act upon. The company formed a task force to evaluate commercially available software solutions.   After an exhaustive search, Mazak selected MERLIN. The evaluation committee included senior executives from President Brian Papke on down, and ultimately they all voted for MERLIN, with 10 out of 10 votes in favor of the Memex Automation product.”

Mr. Schawe states just how successful MERLIN has been so far!

“At Mazak, Schawe stated that MERLIN-related efforts to reduce downtime have so far yielded a 42% improvement in utilization for the monitored machines. In addition, his company reduced operator overtime by 100 hours per month and 400 hours per month of previously outsourced work was returned to Mazak. He also praised the advantage of MERLIN’s ability to take the guesswork out of tracking machine utilization. “We can tell at a glance how we are doing, and the basis is in real-time and historical data,” he explained. “There is so much information, accurate and detailed, all easily accessed whereas before we were it was difficult to find information if it was even available,” he added.”

The article is very well written and really drives home the power of Memex Automation’s MERLIN at Mazak!