An OMAC Update

Sept. 9, 2007
PackML Version 3.0 is out. Here’s an early look at the new guideline from the experts who helped shape it, the inside scoop on OMAC’s new marketing message, and what to look for at next month’s Pack Expo Las Vegas.
A banner day is approaching for the group of dedicated volunteers who have been quietly and methodically going through the steps necessary to take the OMAC Packaging Workgroup (OPW) guidelines beyond their “guidelines” status and turn them into a genuine ISA standard promulgated by the Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society. Why? Because the work is nearing a successful conclusion. To mark this imminent change in status from guidelines to standard, it seemed a good idea to ask a few experts for an update from OMAC, the Open Modular Architecture Control Users Group. What else is new from the OPW, what’s in the pipeline, what’s to be gained by transforming “guidelines” to “standard,” and what plans does OPW have for Pack Expo Las Vegas, scheduled for Oct. 15-17?There’s no better place to begin such an update than with PackML, the “packaging machinery language” built on a universally accepted state model. Recently published was PackML Version 3.0, an upgrade on Version 2.2. According to Mike Lamping, a technology leader at Procter & Gamble, as well as the committee chair for PackML, Version 3.0 is significant for the number of machine states that have been added and the introduction of the concept of a Machine Control Mode.More modes“Version 3.0 is an enhancement of 2.2,” says Lamping. “Version 2.2 only had an automatic machine control mode. The only machine control operation defined in it was fully automatic production. So if your machine did anything in a manual mode or had a cleanout or had some other machine control functionality associated with it, that really wasn’t dealt with in Version 2.2 at all. As long as your machine switch was in machine control automatic, you were good. But once you flipped that machine to machine control manual, version 2.2 didn’t have any way of dealing with that. There was no state model defined for any machine condition other than full automatic in Version 2.2.”A primary driver behind the work that led to Version 3.0 was the recognition that so many packaging machinery operating conditions require more modes than “automatic.”“What we added was the concept that now an infinite number of machine control modes is allowed,” says Lamping. “You can have an infinite number of machine control modes and PackML actually says, ‘Okay, you can do multiple machine control modes, but the state diagram always uses a subset of the defined 17 states. You can only have 17 states. You don’t have to use every one of those states, but you’re never going to have more than 17 states.’“The 17 states were based on the ISA-88 Part 1 concept of using a state diagram to represent a component of equipment operation, which is exactly what PackMLVersion 2.2 was based on. So what we did for Version 3.0, as far as states go, is add the states that weren’t accounted for in Version 2.2. So now you have what might be called an ‘ing’ state before every quiescent state. Each ‘ing’ state has a procedural operation that can direct the machine automation to successfully carry out what is necessary to achieve that ‘ing’ state. For example, instead of just ‘suspend,’
we now add ‘suspending.’ Similarly, we add ‘completing’ to ‘complete.’
“Or let’s say you’re in the ‘run’ state and you want to go to a ‘hold state.’ With Version 3.0, you go from ‘run’ to ‘holding’ to ‘hold’ to ‘unholding’ and back to ‘run.’ ”Each Machine Control Mode will very likely have a different procedural operation to carry out the intent of an “ing” state to meet that Mode’s requirements. Starting in a “Production Control Mode” situation could be quite different than starting in a “Maintenance Control Mode” situation.PackAdvantage committeeMeanwhile, Siemens Vertical Marketing Manager Bill Henderson, the leader of OPW’s PackAdvantage Team, is busy formulating plans that focus on what might be called the OPW “message.”“At a recent executive council meeting, we all agreed that OMAC, which of course stands for Open Modular Architecture Controls, doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue,” says Henderson. “We need to create a keen message and put our marketing efforts behind that message.”Henderson believes that a strong marketing plan is one of the key components that OPW has gone without. There’s been considerable energy spent on communicating the benefits of adopting servo control in packaging machines, but he thinks more can be done if the OPW guidelines that are now becoming an ISA standard are viewed as a product to be marketed. He explains: “These guidelines bring more efficient communication not only to a packaging line but throughout the entire enterprise. Viewed in that light, they are a product that can be marketed.“To gain market acceptance of any product,” Henderson continues, “you have to show how it adds value each and every day. Our market plan will aim to do just that. It will also have as its rallying cry, so to speak, a central thematic statement: Connect and Pack. That statement has meaning that can be instantly grasped.”The “connecting” that OPW wants to facilitate is both vertical and horizontal. Vertical integration refers to a flow of data that percolates from the plant floor right up to the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) layer and, in some cases, on into the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. But horizontal integration is also an important goal.“Horizontal or machine-to-machine integration is important, because in order to have a world class packaging operation, you need to install best-in-breed packaging machines,” says Henderson. “OPW guidelines foster a smooth machine-to-machine integration based on agreed-upon standards so that best-in-breed packaging machines can be installed and integrated without having to waste a lot of time on custom code.”Custom code curseThe curse of custom code is a theme that Rick Van Dyke, group manager, controls and MES systems, at Pepsico’s Frito Lay Division, also touched on in his May 23 presentation at the Packaging Automation Forum, produced by Packaging World and Automation World magazines
). Van Dyke, who is chairman of OPW, would also like to see a broader acceptance of standards, which he sees as useful tools in leveraging performance optimization.“If you follow widely accepted standards as you look into performance optimization in your packaging operations, you’re not off on some path of your own where you’re doing your own custom code,” Van Dyke told his PAF audience. “You’re in step with your peers, in step with the controls providers, in step with the entire packaging industry as it evolves and grows. From the end-user’s perspective, you can define your requirements more clearly and efficiently when you define them according to the standard, because everyone is familiar with it, including the machinery builders and the controls providers.”One thing Van Dyke likes about OPW is that, in its pursuit of standards, it resembles a three-legged stool.“It’s the one place I know where end-users, OEMs and controls providers are all coming together to try to move forward and define what needs to happen,” said Van Dyke at the Packaging Automation Forum. “The ultimate goal is packaging line integration based on standards, so that we reach a day when packaging equipment is every bit as interoperable and interconnected as the printer and digital camera and desktop computer you have in your home or office.”In a recent phone interview, Van Dyke shared his view that the number-one need of packaged goods manufacturers hoping to better network their packaging lines “is for controls suppliers to have an option within their platforms to support the four main networks out there that we support.” The four he refers to are
EtherNet/IP, Profinet, Ethernet Powerlink, and EtherCat. “That would let a packaged goods manufacturer specify for its packaging department one network or another and not have to worry that some controls suppliers support it and some don’t.”
And what keeps controls providers from adopting such a we-support-all-networks viewpoint?“They still cling to the notion of supporting one network and not others because they seem to think it’s a key to their business success,” says Van Dyke. He says he’s not sure this is true.Standards foundationLike Henderson, Van Dyke believes that standards are the foundation of the vertical integration that lets a manufacturing enterprise operate in a world-class manner. Two of the diagrams he showed at the Packaging Automation Forum illustrate a vertically integrated manufacturer (see Figures A and B).“OPW has focused on Levels 1 and 2 for the most part, because that’s where packaging machines connect together,” says Van Dyke. “But if the machines are structured and programmed to standards, then as you get up into a higher level such as MES or ERP and you want to communicate down to all these different systems at the plant floor, the communication is recognizable. It’s harmonized. So you don’t have to spend time on integration or customization.“That’s where PackML and PackTags come in,” he continues. “They provide the recognizable information that needs to make its way out of production levels and go up into Levels 2 and 3. ISA-95 plays an important role, too, by defining certain functions within a manufacturing system from a Level 3 standpoint in terms of integrating the business system with the plant floor. It shows how you send down to the plant floor what it is you want to make, and it helps you do performance tracking back up.” Van Dyke also notes that although Figure B doesn’t show PackML or PackTags, they’re crucial because they provide the definitions and machine states that permit operational commands to go down and operational responses to go back up.Increased capacity utilization is among the business benefits that packaged goods manufacturers can expect to gain by bringing standards-based integration to their companies, a point made by Van Dyke in his PAF presentation.“In general, we see that the industry average in terms of how much an asset is fully producing product is in the range of 30 percent to 40 percent,” said Van Dyke. “A world-class manufacturer should be in the 70 percent to 80 percent range.”One final observation on OPW comes from Keith Campbell, a well-known manufacturing consultant with more than 30 years of experience. In his June 25 “On The Edge” blog, Campbell writes that a reader has asked him if the PackML guidelines are anything more than a marketing ploy. Noting that the leadership of the OPW resides in the hands of senior level people at well-known packaged goods companies, he answers the question in this way: “This is not about a marketing ploy, but about how to drive cost out and bring productivity into the supply chain by making automation simple and reliable.” He concludes: “I believe that there is substantial value in this standards work for packagers and machinery builders alike. We should all be paying close attention, or better yet, participating.”To see the accompanying sidebar to this story - "The Connect and Pack Message" - please visit To see the accompanying sidebar to this story - "OMAC Demo at Pack Expo Las Vegas" - please visit For more information, search keywords “OMAC,” PackML” and “PackTags” at, or at

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