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OMAC Still Relevant In New Era

Automation World Editor in Chief Gary Mintchell has covered the work of the Organization for Machine Automation and Control (OMAC) since 1998, when it was the Open Modular Architecture Control user group.

Sid Venkatesh
Sid Venkatesh
The organization faces new challenges entering this decade. Mintchell recently caught up with OMAC Chairman Sid Venkatesh for an update on the status of the organization.

Automation World: OMAC originally organized under the umbrella of the ARC Advisory Group and then moved to the International Society of Automation (ISA). Given ISA’s budget cuts, it appears that the organization needs to find a new home. Please update us on the latest news.
Sid Venkatesh: OMAC has operated as a separate association since its incorporation in 2005, but has continued to enjoy significant financial and staffing support from ISA since that time. In order to address the significant changes in its marketplace over the last year, ISA has restructured its own operations, downsized its staff and refocused on meeting its own goals and objectives. While still very supportive of OMAC’s mission, ISA is no longer able to continue providing financial or staffing support to OMAC. With ISA’s full cooperation and support, OMAC is currently transitioning its ongoing operations from ISA staff to a new management team under the direction of Executive Director Paul Goodson. OMAC’s administrative headquarters will be transitioning from ISA offices in Research Triangle Park to nearby Raleigh, N.C., in the next few weeks.

OMAC expects to continue its membership in the Automation Federation (AF). I will continue to actively represent OMAC on the AF board

AW: What activities have the attention of OMAC right now?
Venkatesh: We have a number of things going on right now. We’re educating end-users and technology providers of the value of using PackML—a standard way of describing packaging machine operation and control. We’re working on standardization of machine control subroutines in machine tools. These are being developed and demonstrated in conjunction with Siemens and Okuma. Of course, we would like to add other technology providers. Another activity involves facilitating the adoption and use of OMAC standards by sharing software and implementation guidelines among the membership.

Some short- and longer-term activities involve re-evaluating, reaffirming or refining the strategic plans and long-term direction for OMAC. This involves evaluating whether partnering with other organizations can increase the value proposition for our members. We’ll also complete the transition of OMAC operations from ISA to our new management team.

AW: What will you be working on specifically this year?
Venkatesh: We will be strengthening our efforts to support the machine automation and operational needs of manufacturing. Strengthening the value proposition for all of our members is another core activity. Then we need to work on increasing participation in OMAC activities.

The main objective is to add value to our members—end-users, technology providers and OEMs (original equipment manufacturers). We are committed to supporting our members in 2010 and beyond.

Sid Venkatesh earned a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Bangalore University in India. He received his Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of New Mexico. He joined Boeing Manufacturing Research and Development as an engineer in June of 1986 in the Advanced Manufacturing & Controls department. He has worked on several automation projects that have been successfully implemented at Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) and Integrated Defense Systems (IDS) sites. In 2003, he was selected to the Boeing Technical Excellence program as an Associate Technical Fellow. Presently, he is the Chairman of the Organization for Machine Automation and Controls (OMAC). OMAC is a non-profit organization dedicated to the development and use of open, interoperable control and automation systems technologies for end-users. He is also a member of the board representing Boeing for the Louisiana Center for Manufacturing Sciences (LCMS).

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