OMAC, now dubbed Organization for Machine Automation and Control and a part of PMMI, first zapped to my attention at the 1998 ARC Forum. I’ve followed it for the ensuing 23 years through some ups and downs. It never successfully came up with a PLC built entirely from standards to put pressure on the major companies to bring prices down. On the other hand, a lot of the standardization discussions led activists in a variety of beneficial directions. Plus, a group of packaging end users and suppliers devised PackML and other standards that brought organization to control logic and HMI for packaging machines.

This is ARC Forum week, but none of us made the trip to Orlando this year. I had not heard from the organization for some time, so I reached out to Bryan Griffen, who is now Director of Industry Services for PMMI (Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute) and leader of OMAC, for an update. Griffen was previously director of engineering for an end user and implementer of the standard.

OMAC is still going strong. 2020 was a bit of a down year in terms of visibility since there were no events in which we could participate to get some exposure. However, we got a lot of things accomplished last year that are being rolled out now. Here are a few of the highlights:

• We completed an update of the ISA-TR88.00.02 (PackML). We slightly updated the state model, added several new PackTags, and improved the overall document content. The update is currently being reviewed by ISA for official publication. We hope to have it out in next couple of months. Yaskawa led this activity.

• We developed a new HMI and stacklight guideline for use with PackML implementations. It provides a common look and feel to operator interfaces in order to facilitate training, operations and maintenance activities. Mettler Toledo led this activity.

• We developed an new OEE guideline and new PackTags for implementing automatic OEE calculations on a PackML enabled line. ProMach led this activity.

• We just completed a new white paper on best practices for remote access to enable data collection, troubleshooting, upgrades and other remote activities. This effort was led by ei3.

• We are just now finishing up the design and migration to a new web platform. The new website will go live on March 1 and will include pages for all of the items above.

We are also just starting the election process for three open seats on the Board of Directors. This process will continue through March. We are planning a virtual General Session meeting in early April to announce the new board members, highlights from 2020, officially unveil the new website and so forth. The date for the General Session will be posted on the website as soon as we have nailed it down. The meeting is open to anyone, not just OMAC members.

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