Case studies from General Mills and Pfizer, combined with machine-builder testimonials from Douglas Machine and Norden Pac, underscored the introductions of additional Plug-and-Pack™ machines at the recent Pack Expo Las Vegas trade show.
Other machine builders implementing Plug-and-Pack included Aagard Group, Campbell Wrapper, FMS, Harro Hoefliger, Kallfass, Markem, MDC Engineering, SIG Alfa, and Nordson. Automation technology suppliers supporting these implementations now include Yaskawa, Schneider Electric, Siemens, Rockwell, Elau, and Bosch Rexroth.
From the packaging end-user perspective, SABMiller’s Thinus van Schoor reported his company’s order of a PackML-equipped packaging line from Krones using Siemens technology for the company’s Cape Town, South Africa, plant. Pfizer announced that two more machines with PackML are on order and awaiting acceptance tests in November. Procter & Gamble reported on OMAC-related activities being performed in internal interoperability tests.
New interest in OMAC
The annual general meeting of the OMAC Plug-and-Pack Workgroup drew an audience of at least 60 people on the show’s last day, including a number of first-time participants.
At the meeting, Packaging World associate publisher Jim Chrzan spoke about how PW’s own research reflected the continued need for the potential benefits of Plug-and-Pack guidelines. Steady progress was reported on PackTags Version 2.0, which defines PackML tag names, Pack Tag variants to allow compatibility with a broader range of legacy PLCs, PackTag fault codes, and integration with the developing European Weinstephaner standards.
A planning session was also held to further define objectives and requirements for the Plug-and-Pack demonstration project, a major undertaking scheduled for 2004 completion. Grant applications for development of OMAC-based educational curricula have also been submitted by Alexandria Technical College’s Dr. Ken Ryan. There was a suggestion to form a PackHMI (Human-Machine Interface) team, for which volunteers are currently being sought.
OMAC stands for Open Modular Architecture Controls. The OMAC Plug-and-Pack Workgroup, enabled by the support of the Louisiana Center for Manufacturing Sciences and ARC Advisory Group, addresses business requirements by defining “best practices” for applying automation to packaging machinery.
For more information, OMAC Plug-and-Pack executive director Keith Campbell can be contacted at 717/832-0115 or ks.Campbell@verizon.net.