Machinery Interconnection for Industry 4.0 with Customized Protocols


The challenge 

METALP deals with the die-casting of zamak in the field of fashion accessories in the metal scene.
The company has expanded with a new plant with new machines and needs to interconnect them to improve production management and to increase productivity and competitiveness on the market.

The challenge is to be able to communicate with the machines, some of which don't have standard protocols, and to connect them to the MES in use in the company, reading all the data to trace a production history.

METALP also wants to take the opportunity to access the fiscal incentives of the Italian National Industry 4.0 Plan and therefore it is necessary to comply with legal requirements.


The solution

All METALP objectives have been achieved with a complete and scalable solution.

The machines connected to the company's MES are an Agrati press, a Galmec plant for galvanic machining, parts of a Georg Fischer machining island such as Heidenhain CNC milling machines and an electrical discharge machine.

The suppliers themselves were contacted directly to perform the interconnection. It was verified that one of the machines was equipped with the MTConnect protocol, so this standard protocol was used.

To be able to communicate on machines that did not have standard protocols, several tests were carried out with suppliers to understand how the machine communicated, and then customized protocols were developed.

Industry 4.0 software already developed and extensively tested in T4SM was used to meet customer requirements:

  • iDaq for communication with machinery;
  • Lilium for data transfer;
  • Digital Factory 4.0 for real-time monitoring of the entire plant and data transfer from the MES to the machines.

iDaq is the solution that communicates directly with the machinery. The operating parameters needed by the customer are taken from each machine.

The acquired data are:

  • Machine status;
  • Number of production pieces;
  • Other production data and operating parameters.

Digital Factory 4.0 collects all the data acquired by iDaq, allows its visualization and forwards the article to be produced on the machine.

Lilium automatically transfers the data to the company database, from which the customer's MES extracts the information for viewing and archiving.


Industry 4.0 software solution diagram


The sending of data to the machines takes place in different ways.

For the Agrati press, when a new order is created in the MES, a file is created with the order name and the pieces to be produced in the on-board PC which is automatically read by the machine. 

For the Galmec plant, the modality is similar to the previous one but instead of the file, a record is created in the machine database.

For Georg Fischer machines, instead, at the start of the order, the operator manually transfers the Part Program file.

Summing up, the information sent automatically to Agrati and Galmec machines is:

  • The job code;
  • The number of parts to be produced.


Benefits and Results

All the objectives set have been achieved, thus enabling METALP to achieve considerable benefits:

  • Start of corporate digitization: thanks to the solution, METALP has started the digitization process that allows it to produce more efficiently and to reduce costs. 
  • Determination of times and costs per order: data collection and interconnection with the MES allow METALP to have an accurate record of the production.
  • Production traceability: all production cycle data is tracked by creating a production history order by order.
  • Reduction of human errors: data acquisition and transmission are automated, reducing the possibility of human errors.
  • Immediately available data: thanks to the automatic acquisition it is possible to share data in real-time with the offices.
  • Reduced paper documentation: digital information management can save time and money, increasing business productivity.
  • Increased efficiency and time saving: the personnel sends the codes of the articles to be produced, the number of the pieces and the Part Program from the MES to the machine according to the order, increasing efficiency.
  • Incentives of the Italian National Industry 4.0 Plan: compliance with legal requirements allows METALP to access to fiscal benefits.


The Potentiality

The solution is fully scalable. From the field point of view, it allows both to acquire new quantities and to connect new machines quickly, ensuring a minimum impact on the existing system.

Thanks to the modularity of iDaq it is possible to interconnect machines with technologies and functionalities even different from those already connected or to transfer the processed data to advanced data processing systems thanks to Lilium.

The system makes it possible a simple implementation of the other tools of the Digital Factory 4.0 Suite for the optimal management of alarms, with Alarms, or machine configurations per order, with Part Program Manager, and of iDaq Analytics solution for the management of preventive and predictive maintenance.

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“The collaboration with T4SM has been very important for the realization of our new digital 4.0 factory. Not only has it proposed innovative and effective solutions, but it has shown great ability and energy in the field implementation of the project, coordinating and stimulating all the actors involved in the process.”

Giancarlo Paris 






  • Machinery Interconnection
  • Automation of data collection and history
  • Cost monitoring for each order
  • Real-time monitoring of the entire plant
  • Compliance with National Industry 4.0 Plan requirements



Based on a system consisting of iDaq, Digital Factory 4.0 and Lilium that communicate with the machinery and the company MES.



  • iDaq
  • Digital Factory 4.0
  • Lilium


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