I once had an employer who I found awfully difficult to work with at times. He was a super bright guy with a good head on his shoulders, but he had this strange desire to be the best at everyone else’s job. It’s not that he wasn’t competent enough to perform everyone’s job at a fairly high level. His problem was that he was trying to do everyone else’s jobs at the same time while also trying to fulfill his duties as the owner of the company. It didn’t make a lot of sense—he had highly competent employees that didn’t require a whole lot of extra assistance. He had his hands full running the daily operations of the company. My biggest takeaway from this experience was it is okay to be a Renaissance Man—skilled in many things but an expert in nothing. It is much better than trying to be an expert in everything and setting yourself up to fail. In the industrial automation world, PackML was built with the Renaissance Man in mind.
What is PackML?
PackML, short for Packaging Machine Language, is an automation standard created by the Organization for Machine Automation and Control (OMAC). The goal in creating PackML was to give manufacturers the ability to easily integrate their packaging machines and has since evolved into a programming architecture that can be applied to nearly any automation equipment. PackML uses a common structure for machine states, operating modes, and packets of information that describe a machine’s condition. The latter are called PackTags. These PackTags provide real-time data and insights regarding machine performance and overall Key Performance Indicators (KPI). You can then use this information to judge the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) at their facilities. Combined with a standard communications protocol like EtherNet/IP or Modbus, this enables you to identify opportunities for increasing efficiency within your operations and increasing the quality and volume of your production.
Understanding PackML Data
PackML makes transferring and receiving machine data very simple. Regardless of the machine’s manufacturer or control system, you can expect a common look and feel of the interface, as well as consistently defined behaviors while using PackML-enabled machines. In other words, you can view one interface and understand exactly what is happening with your packaging machinery. Gone are the days of having to be an expert in every machine and the tedious pressures that come with it. PackML also offers users interoperability, as the code is organized into logical modules that are reliable, easy to debug, and reusable.
Aside from helping you save time and money by giving them the tools to better understand your OEE, PackML also cuts labor and training costs for manufacturing companies using packaging machinery, or any PackML-enabled machinery for that matter. Beyond that, PackML is truly transforming control engineers into Renaissance Men. Because PackML can unify the entire packaging process, you’re only responsible for understanding information in one interface. You need only a basic knowledge of each machine’s functionality and the ability to understand the PackML user interface.
Just imagine what you and your fellow control engineers could do with all that extra headspace if your machines ran on PackML. You could pick up a new book, learn German, begin practicing yoga, or even improve your pickup lines. Heck, you could master all of these things and more!
For more fun articles and industrial automation updates, be sure to subscribe to The Best Darn Newsletter!