Promises, Promises, What's in it for me?

To many process engineers, packaging equipment can look like something from another planet. Often the controls part of a machine can be rudimentary in their view, and troubleshooting machines from many suppliers can be a headache to figure out.

On the other hand, information technology (IT) engineers view both the equipment and control sides of the manufacturing equation as black boxes as they try to siphon out important real-time data to feed their business systems.

Several solutions are emerging to bridge the packaging/IT gap, and they lie in the development of standard ways of defining machines, processes, programming and data. Engineers involved in batch processing have developed—under the auspices of the Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society (ISA)—a standard adopted by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) known as ANSI/ISA S88. This standard identifies tag names and process “states” in a model that can be adopted by users and suppliers of batch automation processes. Another group developed ANSI/ISA S95, a standard that models data communications between the batch process and manufacturing execution system (MES) application software.

Meanwhile, a Working Group of the Open Modular Architecture Control Users Group (OMAC) specifically oriented to packaging machinery has developed a subset of S88 for packaging. PackML defines a state diagram for packaging machines and standard tag names for data.

Mike Lamping, a technology leader at Procter & Gamble, in Cincinnati, notes that many converting machinery manufacturers moved their designs from mechanical line shafts to electric servo control during the 1990s.

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