Without actual data derived directly from sensors and controllers in the plant, managers cannot trust information presented to them to support decision making.
Standards are one of the keys to getting these data flowing. As I write this, I’m in an airport on my way to a meeting of the Open Modular Architecture Control Users Group (OMAC). At this meeting, OMAC leaders hope to get people from the process manufacturing side and the discrete manufacturing side talking about integrating standards for modeling and communicating factory information. Standards such as the Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society’s ISA88 and ISA95 have helped engineers and other professionals model batch processing and enterprise information integration respectively. The packaging workgroup of OMAC has extended the ISA88 model to packaging equipment. A working group of the SP88 committee is working on Part 5 of the standard that would bring these gains into the official standards world.
Another “industry standard” that is applicable is OPC (an open connectivity standard). Recently, the technical committee of OPC has adopted a new version of the standard that moves the technology from Microsoft-oriented COM (component object model) and DCOM (distributed COM) to the universal standard XML (eXtensible Markup Language).
Why should packaging professionals care? Because managers have discovered that integrating packaging information with the rest of the enterprise plays a key role in improved productivity and profitability.