At the Microsoft Development Center in Copenhagen this past March, the Organization for Machine Automation and Control (OMAC) held a conference called “Smart Packaging Automation with PackML and OPC UA.”
The goal of the conference was to share information on how the PackML unit/machine Implementation Guidelines from OMAC can reduce time and costs of integration of equipment. See the upcoming July issue of PACKAGING WORLD for conference coverage, but in the meantime here are a few highlights and takeaways.
• Peter Jarlvik, Electric & Electronic Engineer Project Leader at Norden, a leading maker of tube-filling systems: “Maybe the best part for me as an engineer [since PackML was fully implemented at Norden] is that when we approach the next machine to be built and installed, we don’t have to discuss in detail how machine-to-machine data exchange should take place. Also streamlined is the connection between the machine and MES or SCADA or ERP at a higher level. Some 90% of the decision-making about coding and such is already in place. It means less code-writing and less programming, which leads, by the way, to quicker installations.”
• Spencer Cramer, CEO of ei3, a firm that focuses on helping machine builders as well as brand owners harness IoT, observes that McKinzie Global Institute sees factories as the largest IoT opportunity. He also says interoperability between IoT systems is critical if the potential of IoT in manufacturing is to be realized. “Interoperability is loosely defined as the ability for computing systems to exchange and understand each other’s data,” says Cramer. “And that is exactly what PackML is doing. So from my point of view, it was very exciting that in the Copenhagen conference we were talking about how capitalizing on OPC UA and PackML will bring about the kind of interoperability that will unleash so much economic value. It’s the business opportunity of a lifetime.”
• John Asbjorn Skajem, PLC Programmer at Beumer Group A/S, was also among the speakers at the conference. Packaging professionals know Beumer as a maker of palletizing and other end-of-line equipment. But Beumer Group also has a division that is a leader in airport baggage handling systems. Skajem, who had experience in the food industry before coming to Beumer, saw an opportunity to bring some of the benefits of the PackML standard to Beumer’s sophisticated baggage handling systems. Among the things he likes about PackML is how robust it is and how uniquely suitable it is for applications involving motion. “It’s highly modular, too,” he adds. “It’s like having a box of Lego bricks where each brick is a module and they snap together nicely. Just as important, each module is pre-programmed and pre-tested.”