OMAC group sees gains in open architecture struggle

Orlando, Fla. - OMAC (open modular architecture control) Users' Group met in general session and in specific working group sessions after the annual ARC Advisory Group Forum February 13.

By Control Engineering Staff March 12, 2002

Orlando, Fla. – OMAC (open modular architecture control) Users’ Group met in general session and in specific working group sessions after the annual ARC Advisory Group Forum February 13.

Jerry Yen, manager, common controls technologies, GM Powertrain, and co-chair of OMAC Users Group, presented a draft of OMAC Baseline Architecture Functional Requirements . Architecture objectives are to provide a foundation for subscribing companies to reduce life cycle costs, decrease integration time and effort, enable modular plug and play components, enhance business system integration, and develop close user/vendor partnerships.

The architecture is a functional spec rather than a detailed equipment specification. A company wishing to build automation projects around the OMAC concept must flesh out the baseline architecture with specific technical specs in order to go out for quote. However, Mr. Yen suggests that a common baseline infrastructure must be selected to enable plug and play components, the selected infrastructure must leverage mainstream technologies from the computing and information technology industries, and that technology vendors will provide products / components conforming to the infrastructure.

Check out the draft at

Meanwhile, the OMAC Packaging Workgroup developed a state machine model for open packaging machinery and began lobbying for support. Companies working with the group and lending initial support of the PackML model include Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Hershey, Markem, Bosch Rexroth, ELAU, Rockwell, and Siemens.

The state model draws upon ISA S88, Unilever internal engineering work, and related information technology standards to provide an open architecture foundation for packaging machine networking. PackML’s work on the model stemmed from the observation that open architecture must start from the ground up. The state model accomplishes this objective by defining common state descriptions and naming conventions independent of underlying network hardware or protocols.

Proponents believe that, if embraced by the industry, users will reduce their training, machinery commissioning and operational costs, regardless of the make of machine or controller. They will also see operational efficiencies through information exchange from increasingly intelligent controls to plant and enterprise management systems, including maintenance scheduling, troubleshooting, technical support, and asset management applications.

PackML team leader Fred Putnam, of OEM member Markem Corporation, has contributed a Web-based simulation of the new state model. It demonstrates the model in a multimachine packaging line environment.

The state model simulation allows interested parties to visualize how the state model actually works, which should stimulate productive commentary on the draft. To participate in the review, contact Fred Putnam by email at .

Version 1.1 of the OMAC Packaging Workgroup Guidelines for Packaging Machinery Automation can be downloaded from the OMAC website, .

The Machine State Definition can be found at .

While the other groups are progressing, the STEP-NC committee is just getting underway. STEP-NC defines a method to automatically go from CAD to CNC programming. Sid Venkatesh, engineer at Boeing MR&D, was the meeting moderator. The primary objective of this first meeting was to bring together not only current members of the working group to discuss the current state of STEP-NC, but to open the meeting to those supplier sectors critical to the overall STEP-NC process. These sectors included CAD/CAM, CNC, and machine tool suppliers. The discussion was lively as representatives of all sectors expressed desires and misgivings of what the direction might be. It was decided to proceed with a pilot program and to continue dialog.

For more information see .

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Gary A. Mintchell, senior editor