Seven things to know about OMAC

The Organization for Machine Automation and Control (OMAC) assembles end-user manufacturers, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) machine builders, system integrators, technology providers, and non-profit and government agency organizations to address key issues, such as connectivity, manufacturing efficiency and best practices for global manufacturing.

By John Kowal December 10, 2019

The Organization for Machine Automation and Control (OMAC) celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, and 2019 also marks 15 years since the introduction of PackML (ISA TR88.00.02), the OMAC-developed automation standard ensures consistent machine states, modes and data transfer and retrieval. Participants in the organization include end-user manufacturers, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) machine builders, system integrators, technology providers, and non-profit and government agency organizations.

Here’s a look at OMAC today, and seven things that might help improve productivity for manufacturers.

1. Increasing interoperability.

A significant driver of past and present OMAC initiatives is interoperability. PackML, for example, ensures functional interoperability and a consistent look and feel across plant floors by providing standard data definitions and consistent tag naming known as PackTags. This allows machines and devices from multiple vendors across multiple control platforms to exchange common information and specific data. PackML simplifies machine-to-machine (M2M) integration and makes troubleshooting, training and startup easier.

The new PackML/OPC UA Companion Specification developed by OMAC and OPC Foundation brings together the common data definition of PackML and OPC UA’s communication protocol to allow data exchange horizontally across a line as well as vertically to enterprise systems. This means a substantial boost in overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) today and implementation of a crucial building block for OPC UA over Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) and preparation for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) tomorrow.

2. New human-machine interface (HMI) and stacklight guideline.

An OMAC member working group developed an implementation guide that outlines standardized representation of PackML in HMIs and stacklights. The guidance establishes standards within an appropriate scope that outlines best practices in usability and design, as well as useful examples.

Goals for the standards include improving efficiency, the ability to move operators from machine to machine with less training and reducing downtime.

The guide is in draft format and will be available on the OMAC website when finalized.

3. Standardizing overall engineering efficiency and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).

An OMAC member working group is developing implementation guidelines for OEE to increase accuracy, ease of use and to standardize data handling and best practices. Employing even a few machines or inspection devices with PackML can provide crucial data for monitoring OEE across the entire production line. A PackML-enabled machine provides data that reflects certain machine states upstream and downstream. Monitoring time in those states produces metrics on availability.  Data may also be used to generate metrics on productivity and quality. As machines are counting packages, each successive part of the line is an evaluation of upstream operations with metrics on production output, product used, packaging material used. A PackML-ready machine can communicate with supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, manufacturing execution systems (MES) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) level systems without being a unique IP address, aiding in cyber-security management of sensitive data. Adding PackML-ready machines can improve machine-to-machine communication and broader diagnostic data leads to valuable analytics and process optimization.

4. OMAC and PackML are not just for technology providers and end users.

OMAC member machine builders who have implemented PackML experience shorter engineering and commissioning times, easier troubleshooting, increased code reuse and higher quality. Axon, a ProMach brand, reduced build and debugging time by 40% after implementing PackML. Approximately 80% of their code is now reusable.

Mettler Toledo has claimed that PackML helped them reduce engineering costs and design time. This has allowed them to focus on continuous product improvement rather than repetitive development. With standard code and tag definitions, documentation is more consistent and customer support teams work from a common knowledge base for machine data and commands.

5. OMAC collaborates with other industry organizations.

OMAC collaborates with other standards and best practices organizations to ensure their efforts are aligned. OMAC collaborates with OPC Foundation, PLCopen, Weihenstephan, OpX, the Industrial Internet Consortium and NIST, among others. PackML is part of the first universal User Requirements Specification (uURS) known as PackSpec, which is a template for technical specification of packaging and processing machinery. PackSpec also has been used as the basis for specification Request for Proposal guideline authored by the OpX Leadership Network and is used as a companion document.

Cooperation among leading standards organizations provides a beneficial environment for end users, OEMs, and technology providers to share best practices for optimizing operations.

Business processes, equipment and control systems will, and should, evolve. Participating in organizations such as OMAC provides real operational benefits today and provides a solid foundation to build on over time.

6. OMAC has a manufacturing workgroup too.

OMAC’s Manufacturing Workgroup focuses on initiatives that improve tooling and manufacturing processes. It is involved in advancing digital twin technology and real-time measurement in tooling and manufacturing. Members have participated in demonstrations worldwide and codeveloped publications and best practices in digital twin technology.

7. 100% volunteer-led and member supported

OMAC has almost 60 member companies in North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia. The foundation of OMAC’s success is the collective strength of its members and their commitment to advance manufacturing automation and efficiency. Knowledge, experience and financial support drive OMAC initiatives that make a difference.

OMAC plans to exhibit at interpack, May 7-13, 2020, in Dusseldorf, Germany, Hall 8B, Booth E80. OMAC provides more about membership here.

John Kowal is marketing director, B&R Industrial Automation; edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media,

KEYWORDS: OMAC, machine standards, OEM

Interoperability for machines

Industry groups collaborate

Manufacturing efficiencies with technologies and standards.


Connectivity standards offer ways for easier, more rapid connections and communications.

Author Bio: Director, business development, B&R Industrial Automation Corp