OMAC Packaging Working Group Update

  • December 12, 2011
  • Feature
December 2011
By Bill Lydon, Editor
PackExpo 2011 Meeting on September 27, 2011
An enthusiastic OMAC Packaging Working Group (OPW) presented plans for packaging machine standards to a standing only room group during PackExpo 2011. Bryan Griffen PhD, Packaging Workgroup Chair kicked off the meeting. Bryan Griffen is Engineering and Automation Group Manager with the Nestlé Product Technology Center in Orbe, Switzerland.
Nestle Perspective
Griffen started the presentations by explaining why Nestlé is committed to the OMAC Packaging Working Group (OPW). Nestle produces over 10,000 different products making packaging an important business issues that has an impact on overall financial performance. Griffin gave candid remarks about why Nestlé believes open standards are important and their vision for packaging automation based on four major goals. 
  • Support sustainable financial ownership through reduced total cost of ownership and increased automation
  • Enhance manufacturing competitiveness by improving OEE
  • Improve the operational safety of packaging equipment
  • Optimize the control of packaging equipment through implementation of international standards
“We decided not to be dogmatic about a specific technology but rather specific standards,” said Bryan Griffen of Nestlé.
PackML Benefits
Griffin described the benefits of PackML for end-users including:
  • Easier line integration
  • Quicker start up
  • Consistent automation state model
  • Common look and feel for HMI requires less training
  • Common integration with ERP, HMI and MES
  •  Overall PackML delivers a reduced total cost of ownership
He explained the change in their packaging philosophy and current vision centered on OMAC standards and how they want to optimize control systems in three ways. “In the past we have been known for having our own internal way of doing things,” said Griffin. “We forced OEMs in the past to change technology platforms, for example, and do things a specific way. Every time we do that we end up with problems from the OEMs saying OK we can do what you want, it is going to cost you more, take longer, and we will not guarantee the performance… We decided not to be dogmatic about a specific technology but rather dogmatic about specific standards.” He explained that within the standard, information needs to be communicated horizontally from machine to machine and vertically from machine to ERP and MES. “The solution we found to do that is PackML,” said Griffin. 
Nestlé Proof of Concept
Nestlé did a proof of concept of PackML by setting up a small simulation line with four different machines, namely, pick and place robot, case director, case packer, and case wrapper. The goal was to prove they could control the machines using the PackML state model and PackTAGS to communicate between machines and with MES and ERP.  Each machine control was a PLC from a different supplier that were each assigned a machine and tasked to communicate machine to machine using PackML standards over Ethernet TCP/IP using the Weihenstephan protocol standard.  Controls for the successful test were provided by Rockwell Automation, Schneider Electric, Siemens, and B&R.
Committee Activities
In the meeting, the following OPW committees made presentations: PackML, PackSafe, PackSoft, PackAdvantage, PackAdopt, PackSpec, PackAbility, and PackLearn.
The PackAdopt team will promote the activities of the OMAC packaging workgroup to the international packaging machine builder community by promoting PackML and its advantages to the international packaging machine builder community. They are also working to motivate packaging machine builders to play an active role in the OPW. Initial initiatives pursued are with OEM umbrella organizations including VDMA, UCIMA, and PMMI.
The PackSafe team is exploring ways to work with multiple safety standards and protocols.   A major issue for discussion is should safety protocols be converged or accommodated? A key consideration was voiced by a team member about the need for convergence, “Impossible to have all these gateways between safety networks.” Diagnostics and validation issues are also being explored by this group.
The PackSpec group envisions a set of guidelines and a library of boiler plate documents to streamline the process for projects including quoting process, machine development, machine building, factory acceptance test, commissioning and documentation based on global standards.
The PackAdvantage group is developing ways to communicate the business benefits of PackML including cost/benefit and sustainability.
The PackLearn group is working on collaboration with universities to develop PackML Learning Modules.
Next Meeting
The next general meetings are the OMAC sessions and annual meeting Thursday, February 9, 2012 at the Sixteenth Annual ARC World Industry Forum.
Thoughts & Observations
There is a much stronger user presence in the OMAC Packaging Working Group that emphasizes the importance of the standard to users. 
A major activity being undertaken is to create a document that can be used in procurement that functionally specifies OMAC packaging standards in detail.
The Nestlé proof of concept system is encouraging because it proved that systems from multiple vendors (Rockwell Automation, Schneider Electric, Siemens; B&R) can work together using a non-vendor protocol (Weihenstephan protocol) over standard TCP/IP Ethernet.
The OMAC Packaging Working Group has been around for a long time but it takes time for standards to be refined and adopted.

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