Earlier this evening I posted some news on Automation World about WBF and MESA International agreeing to merge.

Necessary Step

I see this as a necessary step of two organizations that have accomplished much in their time, but also two organizations that seem to be at an inflection point of what to do next. WBF developed B2MML and BatchML and has members committed to bringing some standardization to batch process automation. The members have done an excellent job of institutionalizing ISA-88 for batch control.

MESA International leaders beginning about 6-7 years ago brought new life to a stagnant suppliers’ association, but it has lost momentum over the past couple of years. What leaders of the association seem to desire is to bring in more users of MES/MOM technology in order to have conversations between the vendors and users.

The best initiative going with MESA right now, aside from development of papers explaining MES/MOM, is its new education program. If the WBF people can add education in the area of B2MML to the decidedly discrete orientation of MESA, that can be a win.

Other Organizations

I look at OMAC similarly. OMAC, like WBF, fell into the sphere of ISA when that organization was looking for some new life and thought it would become an umbrella organization for all the production and automation associations. That federation was a costly (both in terms of money and momentum) decision for both organizations. OMAC also had its heyday several years ago when it developed a standardized way of looking at and describing packaging machines (PackML and PackTags). What it needs now is evangelization–some of which it is receiving this week at The Automation Conference.

There is probably more work to go for OMAC. But the work of bringing order to the PackML idea is going on in the ISA-88.05 working group. If this work is finished, then users, OEMs and suppliers would have the comfort level to institutionalize the ideas. That work, unfortunately, has stalled. I have also picked up vibes that there are tensions among various groups–never a good thing when you are trying to develop a consensus standard.


I am a member of both MESA and WBF and have been very active with the marketing and technical committees of MESA, but I have to wonder about the long-term viability of both organizations. I will be awaiting a new vision statement from the combined organization to see where leaders think they can go.

So, I’m interested. What do you think these organizations should be doing? Or, do you care?

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