OMAC: Open technologies, sharing best practices help integrate discrete, process manufacturing

Everett, WA — More open technologies should augment manufacturing efficiencies, according to efforts at a recent OMAC User Group meeting. "Bridging the Gap Between the Discrete & Process Industries" was the theme of the OMAC Integration Symposium, held here Nov. 28-29. Case studies, best practices, and future plans were among discussions.


Everett, WA — More open technologies should augment manufacturing efficiencies, according to efforts at a recent


User Group meeting. "Bridging the Gap Between the Discrete & Process Industries" was the theme of the OMAC Integration Symposium, held here Nov. 28-29. Case studies, best practices, and future plans were among discussions.

The meeting, said to be the “first annual” by the organization, included OMAC working group meetings, a tour of the Boeing 787 Dream Liner Manufacturing Facility and Future of Flight Aviation Center, and case studies from Boeing and others about process and discrete industries.

OMAC User Group (OMAC stands for Open Modular Architecture Controls) continues to work as an independent unit within ISA and the Automation Federation to promote open guidelines for automation development. It has about 500 member representatives from end-user companies, OEMs, technology providers and integrator companies.

“In a nutshell, this first annual OMAC-centric symposium provided an insight as to how best we can leverage the best practices and lessons learned to further OMAC vision and objectives,” Sid Venkatesh, OMAC chairman Control Engineering . Second OMAC Symposium will be hosted by Okuma America Corp., Charlotte, NC, in

Advice from the meeting included

• Roadmapping enables companies to align technology development to meet product needs and requirements for a success market launch.

• Product and service roadmaps reduce reactive tendencies and enable the ability to drive the market. Needs and requirements are identified for successful implementation of products or services.

Technology and process roadmaps define equipment, tools, processes, training, materials, and collaboration, identifying progressive, alternative, and even distributed technologies.

• Roadmaps generally are 80% pulled by customer requests, and 20% pushed to customers (a new technology or service that internal or external customers don’t know they need yet).

Items under consideration : Harvest existing standards and guidelines, assemble a lexicon of acronyms and terms, communicate more to OMAC membership, do a computer numerical control (CNC) pilot project to demonstrate PackML mode and states definitions for machine tools, and develop an intuitive visibility (dashboard standard) of the process from the end-user to management.

OMAC User Group members agreed that control systems should be fault-tolerant, easy to use, and easily interface with other systems. Working to achieve that goal are three working groups:

Packaging Working Group (PWG) seeks to maximize end-user and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) machine automation choices, increase flexibility, facilitate a smaller-footprint machine, achieve faster throughput, and reduce costs through greater industry openness and interoperability. Doing so will allow end users to “connect-and-pack” different technologies to meet business needs. PWG has five subgroups.

Manufacturing Infrastructure Working Group (MIWG) resolves manufacturing system implementation and integration issues and defines common manufacturing architecture and software usage guidelines, resulting in business benefits to end users, technology suppliers, and machine builders. MIWG has two subgroups.

Machine Tool Working Group seeks to maximize machine automation choices of end users and OEMs and increase flexibility through greater openness and interoperability. The group works with CNC controller vendors, CAD/CAM suppliers, and CNC OEMs to encourage support of OMAC-endorsed open-architecture specifications and other best practices through products and practices. STEP-NC and HMI-API are two subgroups.

Packaging-related OMAC information includes:

Guidelines for Packaging Automation Version 3.1


PackAL V1.3 Proposal

(PDF), reflecting PackML Version 3 changes; a vote is expected May 14. Comment to

Gerd Hoppe

, who led the update team.

Browse the OMAC site for more open controller resources


For more about bridging the gap between process and discrete, look at blog postings at:

Standard Profits: ISA88 Part 5 and Make2Pack


Also read from Control Engineering :
Achieving efficiencies: CNC programming

Advancing OPC: Standard moves into CNC-ERP integration

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—Edited by Mark T. Hoske , editor in chief,
Control Engineering News Desk
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