Machine Design for the 21st Century

World-Class Manufacturers Look to Machine Builders That Embrace OMAC State-Model and Tagging Initiatives

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By Dave Bauman, OMAC

For a machine builder, there are two moments of truth when selling a machine. The first moment is when the customer decides to purchase your machine, not your competitor’s. The key criteria leading to that moment usually include price and a machine that meets the customer’s specifications. 

The second moment of truth occurs when the customer puts the machine into operation. That’s when the customer really finds out how well the machine meets the needs. Key criteria for this decision include reliability, maintainability and ability to integrate into the manufacturing operation. 

In today’s manufacturing environment it is imperative that manufacturers have operations that are reliable, cost-effective and flexible to meet changing consumer needs, and they must deliver high-quality products.

Better Than Average

Rick VanDyke, group manager, controls & MES systems at Frito-Lay, used data from ARC Advisory Group to contrast industry average with world-class performance on a number of key criteria during a talk he gave at 2007 Pack Expo (Figure 1).

Worl Class Benefits

The business benefits manufacturers can achieve drive them to strive for world-class performance. For example, a manufacturer running machines with world-class reliability can, says VanDyke, get the level of production from two packaging lines that his industry-standard competitor gets from three lines. Additionally, packaging lines that run more reliably will inherently deliver higher-quality products and require fewer operators to run.

Start With the Design

It all starts with a solid machine design. Packaging machines have changed dramatically in the past several years. The advent of servo technology resulted in many machines going from traditional mechanical designs with line shafts and gear boxes to servo-driven machines with electronic line shafts. However, replacing line shafts and gear boxes with servos always has not resulted in the desired performance. 

To achieve a reliable, high-performance machine requires the right design steps. Rob Aleksa, corporate engineering section head at Procter & Gamble, says: “The right approach is a science-based, multi-discipline approach. This approach is called mechatronics, which applies science to machine dynamics.” 

This approach combines mechanical, electrical and modeling designs. Mechatronics is not new, but the power of today’s computer technology and modeling software has made the implementation easier and less time-consuming. Machine builders should be building expertise in the mechatronic multi-discipline approach. There are a number of universities that have this expertise and have developed programs in mechatronics, including Marquette, Cornell, Michigan and Purdue, to name a few. Also, a number of control providers have developed this technology and can help.

Critical Connectivity

Once well-designed and reliable machines have been selected, they must be connected to form an integrated packaging system, typically over a network. Today that usually is done with an Ethernet network. The network will have one or more line operator interfaces that can access data from any of the machines on the network. This enables the operator to see the status of all of the machines from a single location, increasing productivity on the line.

Learn More About Connect-and-Pack and PackML

The OMAC Packaging Workgroup (OPW) is organizing Connect-and-Pack seminars in 2009. Visit to learn where these seminars are scheduled.

The ISA-88 standards and the PackML/PackTags technical report, “Machine and Unit States: An Implementation Example of ISA-88,” can be found on the ISA standards website.

An overall line data-collection system, often called a manufacturing execution system (MES), tracks the overall reliability, quality and production of the line. This system is critical to providing the necessary real-time data to keep the packaging line running at its optimum. This ensures the packaging line achieves the high reliability, quality and production required of world-class operation.

The network also enables the packaging operation to be connected to the business system, often call the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. This connection allows the business to see the status of manufacturing to track production, as well as to download the production orders from customers. It also lets businesses be much more flexible and enables manufacturing to more quickly adapt to changing business needs.

Standard Practices Plus

To integrate the pieces together easily, as described above, requires network standards, along with a common language that standardizes which data can be shared between different pieces. These two together enable a plug-and-play packaging system.

Back in February 2000, a number of world-class manufacturers, including General Mills, Hershey, Nabisco and Procter & Gamble, formed the OMAC Packaging Workgroup (OPW) with a vision of developing the necessary standards to achieve a plug-and-play packaging system. They named this vision Connect-and-Pack. At the time, packaging line integration was both costly and time-consuming to achieve. Some of the network standards were not meeting manufacturers’ needs, and there was no standard packaging language.

Since 2000, network standards have been improved, and a number of those improvements have been driven by the user requirements that came from the OPW network group, called PackConnect. For example, the controller-to-controller network requirements document defined performance requirements that helped to drive the functionality now available in real-time Ethernet solutions such as EtherNet/IP, EtherCat, Ethernet Powerlink, Profinet and SERCOS III.

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