Manufacturers and Machine Builders Unite

Feb. 6, 2018
Automation and education will be critical to getting CPGs and OEMs aligned around remote access and cybersecurity. Bryan Griffen—a former Nestlé engineer and PMMI’s new Director of Industry Services—is leading the effort.

While manufacturers are embracing the technology trends around Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), there’s still a lot of ambiguity surrounding these areas for OEMs.

“There are misconceptions and fear around everything from data access to data security,” said Bryan Griffen, PMMI’s Director of Industry Services. “Data mining, for example, requires a whole field of work that needs to be done, which will have to involve both OEMs and CPGs, as well as security and insurance agencies. All of these entities have to come into play when we talk about what to do with all of that data.”

Generating data also requires building more intelligence into machines. “And that starts with automation.”

Griffen is very familiar with the incongruities that exist between manufacturers and machine builders—as he’s worked on both sides. A university instructor turned industry engineer, Griffen got his foot in the door at Nestlé as a third-party systems integrator. He was hired on at the large food and beverage manufacturer a few years into the job, and then spent the next two decades traveling the world in various roles.

During his tenure at Nestlé, Griffen implemented packaging and processing lines in Iowa, worked on process control systems for the beverage, confections and baking sectors in Los Angeles, and then got an itch for R&D and moved to Ohio to act as a liaison between research and operations. Soon thereafter, Griffen went international—transferring to France to develop new ice cream processes and equipment for three years, and then over to the company’s headquarters in Switzerland to head up the global electrical and automation engineering group.

Now, all of that experience will be imparted upon PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, which hired Griffen last October. Griffen is no stranger to PMMI, having participated in the OpX Leadership Network as a Nestlé representative, and serving as the chairman of the Organization for Machine Automation and Control (OMAC), which, in partnership with PMMI, drives best practices across production processes. OMAC is also behind the development of the Packaging Machine Language (PackML), an industry technical standard for the control of packaging machines.

An OMAC PackML Workshop will take place on May 21, 2018 at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare in partnership with the Automation Conference 2018. For more information click here.

“Education is what I’ve always loved,” said Griffen, who started his career as an instructor at Brigham Young University. “Which is one of the things I like about PMMI.”

As PMMI’s Director of Industry Services, Griffen will oversee the OpX Leadership Network, founded by PMMI. His expertise will also assist PMMI's standards and regulations work on behalf of its membership, including work on a Technical Advisory Group for packaging machinery, and PMMI's organizational support of OMAC.

Given Griffen’s comprehensive career path, he’s prepared to continue the momentum PMMI has already established within its Industry Services group. But, with the changing dynamic of the industry, he also plans to take it a few steps further.

One area in particular has to do with educating OEMs on how to build more flexibility into machines by adopting automation. “OEMs are struggling on the automation side because they are typically a job shop,” Griffen said. “But in manufacturing, most of the CPGs are highly automated.” While packaging machines may be built to last 20 years, PLCs and HMIs are evolving at the same rapid rate as mainstream IT. “Technology moves so fast compared to the degradation of a piece of steel. If you are trying to use a machine from ten years ago with a 286 processor, you can’t get the data out of it. Nothing can talk to it anymore,” he said.

In his new role, Griffen is aiming to align the efforts of OEMs and CPGs, which includes the implementation of automation technology.

For example, there are PMMI initiatives underway to help OEMs and CPGs understand each other. The OpX Leadership Network is creating a request for proposal (RFP) template that ensures end users and OEMs are “speaking the same language” when it comes to the bidding process.

What’s typically happened is that an end user will ask for an RFP for a machine and give the OEM a very heavy document with the requirements. The OEM will then charge money upfront just to read the specs, or, if they have no time to read it, will pad the RFP with more fees to cover themselves. On the flip side, OEMs often give the end user a minimal document saying what the machine does, but it says nothing about how to integrate it with other systems.

“The RFP tool goes through the key information that the CPG and the OEM need to do the RFP,” Griffen said. “It covers things as obscure as how to get the machine into the factory.”

The RFP template will be available early this year, Griffen said, with two other templates following, including one for Clean-In-Place (CIP) systems and another describing the best practices for secured remote access. The latter is specifically for when OEMs need to remotely troubleshoot machines on a CPG’s factory floor, Griffen said, noting that the secured access document outlines six different methods for doing remote access at varying levels of cost, security and complexity. It enables an end user to select what method they want to use for the OEMs to gain access.

Of course, once there’s an opening to the factory floor, cyber threats become the biggest fear—as the industry recently experience with the Triton/Trisis malware attack.

And that means there’s much more to do, Griffen said, noting that PMMI is analyzing where the organization can help its members and the manufacturers that rely on their products and services. “It’s about prioritizing around a specific topic and identifying where the whitespace is.” While PMMI is out to solve the pressing problems, “we don’t want to reinvent the wheel.”

About the Author

Stephanie Neil | Editor-in-Chief, OEM Magazine

Stephanie Neil has been reporting on business and technology for over 25 years and was named Editor-in-Chief of OEM magazine in 2018. She began her journalism career as a beat reporter for eWeek, a technology newspaper, later joining Managing Automation, a monthly B2B manufacturing magazine, as senior editor. During that time, Neil was also a correspondent for The Boston Globe, covering local news. She joined PMMI Media Group in 2015 as a senior editor for Automation World and continues to write for both AW and OEM, covering manufacturing news, technology trends, and workforce issues.

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