Where Have All the Standards Gone?

Sept. 21, 2006
Ok, so once upon a time, I sang folk songs. But the real point is that while engineers are discovering that standards are good things, the standards process regarding packaging equipment and processes seems to be running out of steam.
This is too bad for the industry - both packaging and automation - because the eventual customers are served best when there are sufficient standards to achieve interoperability among various systems. At the same time that IT managers are looking at standard communication protocols as a way to achieve greater value from their enterprise application packages, here is an industry segment that is crucial to manufacturing operational excellence apparently shrugging its collective shoulders.This seems particularly true in the case of the OMAC Users Group - formerly a vigorous organization promoting industry standards. In response to a blog (radio.weblogs.com/0133292/) posting I made about the apparent lack of progress at OMAC, Keith Campbell, currently a consultant and a retired Hershey engineer and early OMAC leader, responded, "You're right about OMAC losing something durig the past two years. Significant changes in OMAC leadership took place over the same period." He continues, noting that some initiatives that were formerly part of OMAC are being carried on by others. He referred specifically to the education initiatives of Ken Ryan at the Alexandria Technical College Center for Automation and Motion Control, the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI) and Campbell's own work with educational institutions.I spent more than 20 years in manufacturing, and preferred to read magazines that gave me ideas for performance over unfounded, negative opinions. So, I really mean these thoughts as a challenge to all of you to get involved.Campbell adds this organizational caveat: "I believe that the success of any organization depends upon mission, vision, goals, strategy, leadership, dedicated workers and a continuous stream of small wins. OMAC should evaluate if each of these is in place."