CPI UNIFIED MACHINERY FILE FORMAT CONTINUES TO TAKE SHAPE

The Workgroup of registered suppliers met on 09/30/19 via conference call to discuss, in detail, the Unified Machinery File Format (UMFF) draft. The draft file format is focused on the primary goal of the CPI which is to improve communication between software and equipment used in production. As an outcome from the meeting adjustments and modifications to the draft UMFF are needed. An updated draft of the UMFF is scheduled for the week of 10/07/19 with a follow-up conference call with the Workgroup on 10/15/19 to finalize the specification for the format. After the 10/15/19 conference call work then will begin on readying example files following the UMFF for use in the Alpha testing phase of the initiative.

The current schedule regarding the development of the file format(s) is as follows:

  • Completed Milestones

    • September 2019 - A draft of the fleshed-out concept and file outputs will be available at the beginning of September for review by the Workgroup. – Completed

    • 09/30/19 – CPI Workgroup conference call to review comments on draft UMFF specification - Completed

  • Upcoming Milestones

    • Week of 10/07/19 - Update of UMFF specifications based on meeting comments distributed to CPI Workgroup.

    • 10/15/19 – CPI Workgroup conference call to approve the specifications of UMFF.

    • October – December 2019 – Finalize UMFF for Alpha testing (3 – 4 months after approval of specification).

    • January – February 2020 – Begin Alpha testing of UMFF.


CPI WORKGROUP CONTINUES WORK ON THE UNIVERSAL FILE FORMAT

The Workgroup of registered suppliers continues to work on the longer-term goal of Universal File Formats as part of the Cross-Platform Initiative. A first draft along with examples of specific file formats has been prepared and distributed to the Workgroup for their review and discussion. The draft file format is focused on the primary goal of the CPI which is to improve communication between software and equipment. On 09/16/19 the Workgroup met via conference call where a draft format, currently identified as the Unified Machinery File Format, was introduced to the group. The Workgroup will be reviewing the file format further and is planning a follow-up conference call on 09/30/19 to finalize any known issues with the format. After that conference call, the Workgroup will begin final development of the format with a target date for Alpha testing sometime in December 2019.

The current schedule for the development of the file format(s) is as follows:

  • September 2019 - A draft of the fleshed-out concept and file outputs will be available at the beginning of September for review by the Workgroup. – Completed

  • September – December 2019 – Ongoing development, review, and refinement of the format(s) by the Workgroup.

  • December 2019 - Begin Alpha testing by year-end 2019.


CPI REPOSITORY V1.0 AVAILABLE FOR REGISTERED SUPPLIERS

The CPI Repository, which contains the data requirements, file format specifications, etc. required by various equipment suppliers, has gone through beta testing and Version 1.0 is now open to any registered Supplier for further input and use. Suppliers that are interested in becoming registered with TPI and willing to share their equipment file formats, etc. through the Repository can sign up via the link on the TPI website (https://www.tpinst.org/initiative-crossplatform). The CPI Repository benefits, as stated in an earlier blog post, are that it:

  • Will provide software developers access to definitive, vendor-provided interface specifications and upcoming changes which would lead to opportunities to better achieve cross-platform capabilities.

  • Will serve as a vehicle for an equipment manufacturer to notify software developers, via the repository, of equipment changes ahead of release permitting a better chance of achieving or maintaining cross-platform capabilities.

  • Will allow equipment manufacturers and software developers the ability to research the current status of interface support and adoption.

  • Will provide opportunities for better coordination between equipment and software developers which will lead to better cross-platform capabilities.

  • Will provide a step toward achieving cross-platform capabilities needed and desired by customers in a short time frame and will provide a steppingstone and resource for developing universal file format(s) which is a longer-term solution for achieving cross-platform capabilities.

In addition to the Repository, the Workgroup of registered suppliers is working on the longer-term goal of Universal File Formats. A draft concept document describing the units of work that will communicate with equipment using a Uniform Data Standard as its foundation has been created. The Workgroup is now beginning further development and fleshing out of the concept and creating examples of specific file outputs for some of the equipment types such as saws and tables. The current schedule regarding the Universal File Formats development is as follows:

  • September 2019 - A draft of the fleshed-out concept and file outputs will be available at the beginning of September for review by the Workgroup.

  • September – December 2019 – Ongoing development and review by the Workgroup.

  • December 2019 - Begin Alpha testing by year-end of 2019.

CPI REPOSITORY & UNIVERSAL FILE FORMAT UPDATE

The Cross-Platform Initiative (CPI) Workgroup 2 meet on 07/17/19 to continue discussion and development of the Universal File Format (UFF) and provide any updates that might be needed to the Repository.

The beta version of the Repository (v0.01) which was under review by the Workgroup 2 members is now under review by the larger registered supplier group. Input and feedback from the larger supplier group is targeted to be completed by the first part of August 2019. After that time any necessary adjustments will be made to the Repository and the Repository will be made available to any other interested suppliers that register with TPI.

Regarding work on a UFF, the Workgroup reviewed a draft concept document describing the units of work that would communicate with equipment using the Uniform Data Standard as its foundation. The Workgroup is now beginning further development and fleshing out of the concept and developing examples of specific file outputs for some of the equipment types such as saws and tables.


CPI REPOSITORY (V0.01) UNDER REVIEW & UNIVERSAL FILE FORMAT DEVELOPMENT UNDERWAY

The Cross-Platform Initiative (CPI) Workgroup 2 has been meeting to continue the work on the Repository and determining the next steps necessary to develop a foundation for a universal file format.

A beta version of the Repository (v0.01) has been released to the Workgroup 2 for their review and comment along with a companion Slack Workspace (TeamCPI) for the Workgroup’s use. The Workgroup will be reviewing the Repository for completeness and correctness of the data. Currently, the Repository contains equipment and file format information from the 9 equipment manufacturers on the Workgroup as listed below.

  • Alpine

  • Enventek

  • Hundegger

  • MiTek

  • SL-Laser

  • Spida Machinery

  • Trussmatic

  • Vekta

  • Virtek Vision International

Once the Workgroup review is complete, additional information from other registered CPI suppliers will be solicited. The target for completion is by June 2019.

The Workgroup also has been determining the next steps for the development of a universal file format (UFF). They have been evaluating a BTLx format which has been developed and maintained by 3 organizations which share information about the BTLx format on the design2machine.com website. The Workgroup has determined that the BTLx format is not best suited for use for the component manufacturing industry and determined that it would be best to build on the Uniform Data Standard, developed by SBCA.

The next step for the Workgroup on the development of a UFF is to begin drafting a document describing the units of work that would communicate with equipment using the Uniform Data Standard as its foundation. Once the draft document has been completed it will be used to begin the development of specific file outputs for some of the equipment types such as saws and tables.

The Workgroup is scheduled to meet on 07/21/19 to continue the discussion and development of the UFF and provide any updates that might be needed to the Repository.

CPI WORKGROUP CONTINUES WORK ON REPOSITORY

The Cross-Platform Initiative (CPI) Workgroup 2 met via conference call on 05/21/19 to continue work on the Repository and begin discussions on the steps necessary to develop a foundation for a universal file format.

The Repository is still in development and contains the beginnings of the data requirements, file format specifications, etc. required by various equipment suppliers. Based on comments received during the meeting, the Repository is being updated and additional data from equipment suppliers is being input into the Repository. The target for completion of the first iteration of the Repository is June 2019.

The Workgroup also began discussions on outlining the steps for developing a foundation for a universal file format. The group considered a number of existing formats as possible foundations, in whole or in part, for a universal file format. The Uniform Data Standard (UDS), developed by SBCA, was considered as a potential foundation for a universal file format or formats but possibly being converted, at some point, into an XML format. The workgroup will be evaluating the UDS further over the next few weeks and are scheduled to continue the discussion on this topic at the next Workgroup 2 meeting scheduled for 06/04/19.


CPI WORKGROUP 2 UPDATE

The Cross-Platform Initiative (CPI) Workgroup 2 met via conference call on 04/30/19 to begin the further definition of the Repository concept and begin assembling the data requirements from suppliers as had been discussed at the 04/17/19 CPI Supplier meeting. The Repository will allow for some more immediate plug-n-play solutions while also serving as a building block and resource for the work on universal file formats.

While the Repository will help address some issues today, the Workgroup also discussed that there is also a need to begin addressing the longer-term development of a universal file format. The Workgroup determined that, if possible, it would be best to build a universal file format off of existing formats and that the builds of a universal file format will most likely be in incremental steps. The Workgroup noted that while a universal file format will be an improvement it will not be a “magic bullet” and solve all plug-n-play issues from the start. There will continue to be a need to support legacy file formats because older equipment will continue to be used in the component manufacturing marketplace. A universal file format will be another format that suppliers, software developers, and component manufacturers will need to support and use in addition to earlier formats. The Workgroup will begin looking at existing formats as well as the SBCA Uniform Data Standard to determine if existing work efforts and formats can be used as a foundation for a universal file format.

An upcoming target milestone date for the Initiative is to have the first version of the Repository available in June 2019 in addition to having a more definitive outline of the steps necessary to develop a foundation for a universal file format.


CPI TO BEGIN WORK ON A DATA RESOURCE REPOSITORY

The Cross-Platform Initiative (CPI) Supplier Group met via conference call on 04/17/19 to review the progress of the Workgroup and discussed the proposed approach for advancing the Initiative. The approach for moving forward that the CPI Supplier Group agreed to is a multi-step process. The initial step is to gather additional data requirements from suppliers into a Repository followed by using the Repository as a building block and resource for beginning the work on universal file formats. The Repository would alleviate the current lack of a common knowledge-base of interface definitions for equipment and software within the component manufacturing industry. Contemplated benefits of the Repository are that it:

  • Will provide software developers access to definitive, vendor-provided interface specifications and upcoming changes which would lead to opportunities to better achieve plug-n-play capabilities.

  • Will serve as a vehicle for an equipment manufacturer to notify software developers, via the repository, of equipment changes ahead of release permitting a better chance of achieving or maintaining plug-n-play capabilities.

  • Will allow equipment manufacturers and software developers the ability to research the current status of interface support and adoption.

  • Will provide opportunities for better coordination between equipment and software developers which will lead to better plug-n-play capabilities.

  • Will provide a step toward achieving plug-n-play capabilities needed and desired by customers in a short time frame and will provide a stepping stone and resource for developing universal file format(s) which is a longer-term solution for achieving plug-n-play capabilities.

  • Will make possible a yet to be defined “Seal of Approval” for those that participate in the Repository which would be able to indicate their level of plug-n-play capabilities which would provide confidence to customers regarding their investment into equipment and software.

As a result of the meeting, a new Workgroup was appointed that will be meeting over the next 1 – 2 weeks to further flesh out the Repository concept and a concept for universal file formats. A more defined Repository specification and possible example(s) are targeted to be presented to the larger CPI Supplier group sometime in mid-May.

CPI WORKGROUP UPDATE

The Cross-Platform Initiative (CPI) Workgroup met via conference call on 03/26/19 to review a draft of the information needs for laser equipment and to discuss the applicability of a universal file format such as the SBCA Uniform File Format to accommodate those needs. The Workgroup generally felt that a universal file format could accommodate the laser data needs but had concerns with how it might address batching of information and in particular all the nuances necessary for saw equipment. The next steps are to gather additional data needs from the other supplier companies and in particular, the saw equipment manufactures while also beginning to look into and better defining the batching needs of various pieces of manufacturing equipment. TPI staff and various members of the Workgroup will be working to that end and will be reaching out to the other CPI supplier members for their equipment requirements in preparation of the next meeting of the larger CPI Supplier group which will be sometime in mid-April.

CPI WORKGROUP BEGINS DEFINING DATA AND INFORMATION NEEDS FOR LASER EQUIPMENT

The Cross-Platform Initiative (CPI) Workgroup met via conference call on 03/05/19 to further discuss refining “what” information/data needs are to be exchanged between software and equipment in order to achieve the “plug-n-play” capabilities for equipment. Various equipment data needs and file format needs were discussed and debated. After discussion, the Workgroup determined that while there may be various file formats needed to address the different types of equipment used, they would initially focus on the specific equipment needs for laser equipment. The next step for the Workgroup is to develop a draft document which will outline the data and information needs from software in order for laser equipment to operate. Additionally, the draft document will address what data in the SBCA Uniform Data Standard (V1.0) is applicable to address those needs. The Workgroup is scheduled to meet again on 03/26/19 to review and update the draft document and to set the next steps in the Initiative.

Cross-Platform Initiative - Draft Scope and Workgroup Established

Eleven (11) supplier company representatives met via conference call on 02/12/19 to further discuss the initiative and to work on defining a project methodology, scope, timeline, and potential deliverables for the initiative. A draft scope statement was reviewed and a workgroup of seven (7) supplier representatives was formed. The workgroup will begin refining “what” information/data needs are to be exchanged between software and equipment in order to achieve the “plug-n-play” capabilities for equipment. The workgroup is scheduled to meet March 5, 2019 and, in the meantime, they will be reviewing the SBCA Uniform Data Standard (V1.0) to see if it will appropriately address the issue of achieving the “plug-n-play” capabilities. The workgroup also will be exploring other ideas regarding equipment and software cross-platform communication needs and solutions. Future meetings will be determined after the March 2019 meeting of the workgroup.

Cross-Platform Initiative - Meetings Underway

TPI member company representatives met via conference call on 01/18/19 to begin the process of gaining a common understanding of a project methodology, scope, timeline, and potential deliverables. This meeting focused primarily on defining a draft scope for a project that has a goal of achieving a “plug-n-play” capability for component manufacturing equipment and software while meeting the business needs and protecting the Intellectual Property (IP) of all participants. Another conference call is planned with the larger supplier group on 02/12/19 where further discussion and refinement of the initiative scope will take place. Also during the 02/12/19 conference call the group will discuss, if time permits, the project methodology and potential deliverables such as the work of the SBCA- IT committee and any other issues raised by the equipment suppliers. It is hoped that following the call on 02/12/19 that further discussion with an even larger group that will include interested component manufacturers will begin.


Cross-Platform Communication Initiative Update

Thank you to all those that have expressed an interest in the Cross-Platform Communication Initiative. This post is to provide everyone with an update on activities relative to the initiative.

Currently, there are 19 Supplier companies and 6 Component Manufacturing companies that have signed up. A listing of the companies that have signed up can be seen here. TPI is progressing on the initiative albeit a bit slower than anticipated given the holidays and everyone’s busy schedules. TPI member company representatives to the initiative are working on establishing an agenda and background material for our initial conference call. We hope to have that initial conference call in the month of January 2019 so everyone can begin the process of gaining a common understanding of a project methodology, scope, timeline, and potential deliverables. As soon as more information is available we will let everyone know.

Wishing everyone Happy Holidays!