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In defense of PackML

A recent edition of this newsletter was based on comments by Joel Casper of engineering and integration specialist Can Lines Engineering.

Casper expressed the opinion that PackML—the standards-based machine-control language that the OMAC Packaging Workgroup has been developing—leaves too much room for interpretation in order to be truly precise and useful in its current state.

This response comes from Mike Lamping, corporate engineering machine control technology leader at Procter & Gamble and ISA TR88.05 leader:

"Pat, read your insights article from Jan 9th. One thing that came to mind while reading it is that most everyone who hasn't used functional programming like PackML or S88 will agree that there are "gray areas" or that particular aspects of the method aren't clear. That is pretty much to be expected when folks haven't been intimately exposed or taught. As you pointed out, the work of the PackML group is becoming deployment and training—not the technical details of the PackML method. As the OEMs embrace deployment, as some have, they will learn that the benefits aren't in only selling more machines but in simplifying their machines so that not only can they build them cheaper, they can now have the resources to do real innovation Ð which sells more machines.

I'd encourage the OEMs that have questions or issues to contact OMAC technical director Dave Bauman rather than languish over PackML. Typically the services OMAC provides for education or information are given to the OEM at no cost—right now. Control vendors are also a great source for programming templates. The benefits for functional programming methods like PackML reach into all aspects of the engineering, design/build, and manufacturing processes to change a longstanding paradigm of islands of automation—it will no doubt take years to change, as it took the last 30+ years to develop.

Thanks for putting the information out there."

OMAC technical director Dave Bauman can be reached at

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