If you are an end user or manufacturer of packaging equipment, you are probably aware of the PackML standard for packaging machine control. If you happen to work in one of the larger users of equipment, your company might already be making efforts to standardize on this concept.
If you work for a smaller company or if PackML isn’t part of your current plans, you might feel that it isn’t important for your business. As it happens, as PackML becomes more widely adopted, it is going to have positive effects on just about all packaging equipment applications.
Here at ID Technology, we already build some PackML compliant labeling systems and our parent company – Pro Mach – has made a commitment to standardize 0n PackML for equipment controls design.
Traditionally, companies that build packaging equipment have developed their own internal standards for packaging machine control. The control panels with lots of buttons and dials have been replaced with PLC control and graphical Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs), there has been no consistency, often even within the same company.
This means that when installing a packaging line with equipment from different manufacturers, each piece of equipment will have its own controls design, its own selection of setup and operator screens and its own way of reporting its status.
The operators and the maintenance folks need to learn the idiosyncrasies of every piece of equipment to ensure they can use it effectively and keep it working properly.
All of this complexity requires lots of training, causes difficulty integrating equipment into automation systems and increases costs.
Since the early 2000s OMAC (Organization for Machine Automation and Control) has been looking to develop a standardized way of developing controls for packaging equipment – the result is the PackML Standard.
PackML for End Users
The PackML Standard is an open standard that defines a consistent way to control packaging machinery. By defining common states for equipment and common definition of communications, it becomes much easier for different pieces of equipment to share information.
In addition, but standardizing the look and feel of machine interfaces, the operators, maintenance and other personnel will have much less difficulty leaning to operate and maintain new equipment – less training, less downtime, less cost!
Being an open standard, there is no need to have a particular PLC system to be able to introduce PackML – indeed, many manufacturers of industrial controls are members of OMAC and actively support development of the PackML Standard. These include big names such as Rockwell Automation, Siemens, Yaskawa and Omron. Because of the common PackML communications, a filling machine based on Siemens controls, a capper using Rockwell’s, Allen-Bradley and a palletizer built with Omron PLCs can communicate easily with each other and with central line control systems and ERPs.
If we take the view that a packaging line isn’t a number of individual pieces of equipment, but a single manufacturing unit where everything has to work seamlessly together, PackML makes a lot of sense.
PackML for Machine Builders
For companies building packaging machinery, PackML offers advantages as well.
Our parent company, Pro Mach, operates a number of brands of quality packing equipment so it makes sense to have a common standard of machine interaction, particularly since packaging lines often include products from more than one Pro Mach company.
Having a standard also makes it easier to share engineering resources between the Pro Mach companies and allow engineers to focus on developing the best products, not having to worry about how the interfaces and communications have to work.
As part of Pro Mach, ID Technology has adopted PackML as a standard for a number of our labeling systems.
LSI labeling systems that use a system PLC and graphical interface are designed with interface screens that follow the PackML guidelines and PackML Pack-Tags for communications. Another PackML based product is our Model 255 Label Printer Applicator. This is the PackML compliant version of most popular print and apply labeling system available – bringing all the versatility of IDT’s 252 system to the PackML world.
Pro Mach is an enthusiastic supporter of PackML and a member of OMAC.
Is PackML Right For You?
If your company isn’t a P&G or a Nestle or just hasn’t shown any interest in PackML, you might be wondering why you should be interested. It might be that you have simple packaging lines and communication between pieces of equipment might not be important to you.
What is important however, is that the PackML standards have evolved over a number of years, with input from both users and manufacturers of equipment – big companies with the resources to do it right. The result is a means of controlling packing equipment that is refined, simple to use and minimizes time needed for installation and troubleshooting – everyone should be interested in that, regardless of what kind of company.
Want to Get Started?
Pro Mach companies make some of the best packaging equipment around – filling/capping and conveyor systems, flexible packaging equipment and end of line solutions; not to forget our ID Technology labeling systems!
Call us today to find out more at 888-438-3242, Option #3, or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll put you in touch with one of our local specialists, right in your area.