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PackML and PackTags in use at SABMiller

SABMiller in its Newlands Brewery near Cape Town, South Africa, is among the early adapters of PackML, an OMAC standard that defines machine states.

A related specification, PackTags, will be specified by SABMiller for new equipment purchased in the future. PackTags provides common names that can be used by all equipment manufacturers so that communications from different types of equipment can flow smoothly.

Those who helped develop this specification note that it provides a number of benefits, beginning with the initial ordering and set-up. “PackTags’ biggest benefit comes during commissioning,” says SABMiller’s Larry Trunek, principal engineer at Miller Brewing Co. in Milwaukee and OMAC’s PackTags subcommittee chairman. “It shortens commissioning time dramatically.”

It has added benefits. Trunek notes that when set points such as cases or containers per minute are transferred during a changeover, using a standard like PackTags minimizes the chance that there will be confusion. For example, a bottle filler could be communicating on the basis of containers per minute while the secondary packaging equipment is counting by cases per minute. “With closely coupled machinery, the results can be devastating,” notes Trunek.

The standard will also help maintenance personnel get faulty equipment running quickly. “It gives you supplemental reasons explaining why a machine is down, again using a standardized methodology,” says Trunek.

Standardization will also give front-office personnel even more insight into manufacturing. “You can report machine states on the PackTags model so you can do downtime monitoring,” says Trunek.

SABMiller isn’t the only company that has latched onto the specification. Other brewers are helping move the standard into production. “We know of two packaging lines gong into one brewer and another major brewer is putting PackTags on a new line,” says Trunek.

As the standard moves into the mainstream, there’s a chance that some of the ambiguities that often occur in standards may come to the fore. “Some consultants have raised concern about the possibility of misunderstandings, so we’ll clarify that in PackTags 3.0,” says Trunek.

See the upcoming December issue of Packaging World for a complete story about SABMiller’s use of PackML.

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