Improving communication with (and between) machines

Lenze has published a White Paper discussing PackML, a programming standard defined by OMAC, the Organisation for Machine Automation & Control. Here, Lenze's Marc Vissers provides machine builders with an insight into the paper

In an ideal world, the machine you buy from any machine builder anywhere in the world is perfectly tailored to the task you want to perform with it. And it also fits seamlessly into your production line/flow with the highest possible efficiency. In practice, such a result is not that simple. By using standards in the development of a machine, there are many differences between manufacturers. These various communication standards and protocols can increase the complexity of the integration even further. However, with the OMAC PackML standard, many of these challenges can be overcome. Here is how. 

By using standards in the development of a machine, there are many differences between manufacturers. The various communication standards and protocols increase the complexity of the integration even further. However, with the OMAC PackML standard, many of these challenges can be overcome.

Pack ML (or Packaging Machine Language) is a programming standard defined by OMAC (Organisation for Machine Automation and Control). This standard is also known as the ISA Technical Report TR88.00.02 and defines machine statuses, modes and tagging appointments. However, the scope is broader than just packaging machines. TR88 works equally well for any machine and production line. The goal is to create a common 'look and feel' and operational consistency. Operators feel familiar with the controls when they see the same PACK ML machine interface returning. The start up of production follows a defined structure that any operator can work with, even if it is a completely new machine for him. The same when an error occurs on the line. The operator knows to focus on the machines with 'HELD' status (internal error occurred), while the machines that are safely stopped go into 'SUSPENDED' status (external error occurred). In other words, PACK ML defines a common machine language through which machines, operator and overhead computer systems can communicate very clearly with each other.

Advantages for the end user

Clearly, companies must be run in a financially sustainable way. Two key parameters in this story here are the reduction of TCO for new and existing installations and the improvement of competitiveness by increasing OEE and realizing a better utilisation of assets. PACK ML is a valuable instrument to contribute to these ambitions. Instead of pushing a particular automation brand forward and trying to fit it into production, end-users can focus purely on innovation and order the best possible machine for a specific task. There are also advantages in terms of maintenance, as all technicians are familiar with the machine functions and the machine code. The end user will have to invest less time in training his operators and maintenance personnel and will recover more quickly from downtime, which in turn results in a better OEE. Pack ML also guarantees the smooth integration of machines into new or existing line configurations. This accelerates the delivery and leads to a better utilization of assets and a shorter time-to-market.

Advantages for the machine builder

Several machine builders are already implementing Pack ML. They build very different types of packaging machines and each has its own approach to implement Pack ML. But the results of implementing a modular, coherent standard throughout production lines are the same: a significant saving in time and costs and a better consistency between their own products from which they and their customers reap the benefits. 


By making Pack ML the standard for machine interfaces and using the OMAC principles to modularise machine code, machine builders can focus on innovations and the capabilities of their machines. After all, they don't have to constantly redevelop machines to meet the changes in automation systems. By working in a modular way, the basis is laid for reusable mechatronic subunits and the time to market for new machines is boosted. All interfaces and machine functions are pre-tested and ready to be reused without any worries. This guarantees easy installation and commissioning of the machines at the customer's premises. 

How to get started with digitisation

We are seeing a lot of chain change by the consumer. So what choices do machine builders make and what business models can you develop to expand your business? Lenze offers several white papers detailing how to deal with people, organisation, technology and your sales market. You will get concrete tips and tricks to take your first steps in the digital transformation and can download this one here.

PackML is a programming standard defined by OMAC
PackML is a programming standard defined by OMAC

Lenze Ltd

6 Abbey Court Road
Priory Business Park
MK44 3WH

+44 (0)1234 753200

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