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Machines with OMAC Plug-and-Pack™ attributes arrive in force at PACK EXPO Las Vegas.Machines with OMAC Plug-and-Pack™ attributes arrive in force at PACK EXPO Las Vegas.

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Machines with OMAC Plug-and-Pack™ attributes arrive in force at PACK EXPO Las Vegas.

Case studies from General Mills and Pfizer, combined with OEM testimonials from Douglas Machine and Norden Pac, underscored the introductions of additional Plug-and-Pack™ machines at a busy PACK EXPO Las Vegas, October 13 to 15, 2003.

Other machine builders implementing the PackML™ state model and various other guidelines included Aagard Group, Campbell Wrapper, FMS, Kallfass, MARKEM , MDC Engineering and Nordson. Automation technology suppliers supporting these implementations now include Yaskawa, Schneider, Siemens, Rockwell, ELAU and Bosch Rexroth.

In addition, scores of machine builders at the show offered some or most aspects of the Guidelines. Pfizer announced that two more machines with PackML are on order and awaiting acceptance tests in November. SIG Alfa and Harro Hoefliger both announced that they will implement the PackML state model on upcoming machines. Procter & Gamble reported on OMAC-related activities being performed on their interoperability test bed.

From the opposite side of the world, SAB Miller's Thinus van Schoor reported his company's order of a PackML™ equipped packaging line from Krones for the company's Cape Town, South Africa plant. Technology provider for the project is Siemens.

"Clearly, the Plug-and-Pack™ initiative is reaching critical mass," summarized Keith Campbell, Executive Director. "On the technology adoption curve, this was the event demonstrating that both machinery builders and buyers recognize the business potential of Plug-and-Pack™. At our booth, packagers expressed knowledge and interest in joining. And we've experienced increasingly active involvement by our technology providers. These are all clear signs that our original members' groundbreaking work is paying off."

The annual general meeting of the OMAC Plug-and-Pack™ workgroup drew an audience of more than 60 on the show's last day, including a number of first-time participants. Packagers and machine builders included Douglas Machine, Hershey Foods, KHS Kisters, Kraft Foods, Krones, Norden Pac, Nordson, Procter & Gamble, SAB Miller and Unilever. Participating technology providers included Beckhoff, Bosch Rexroth, B&R, ELAU, Motoman, Phoenix Contact, Rockwell Automation, Schneider Electric, Siemens, systems integrator SL Controls and Yaskawa.

Allied industry attendees included ARC Advisory Service, Automation World magazine, Center for Automation and Motion Control, CAN in Automation, the U.K. Institute of Electrical Engineers, the Louisiana Center for Manufacturing Sciences, the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute and Packaging World magazine.

Steady progress continues on PackTags Version 2.0, which defines PackML tag names, Pack Tag variants allow compatibility with a broader range of legacy PLCs, PackTag fault codes, and integration with the developing European Weinstephaner standards. A planning session was also held to further define objectives and requirements for the Plug-and-Pack™ demonstration project, a major undertaking scheduled for 2004 completion.

OMAC stands for Open, Modular Architecture Controls. The OMAC Plug-and-Pack Workgroup, enabled by the support of the Louisiana Center for Manufacturing Sciences and ARC Advisory Group, is in the process of refining its mission and vision to address business requirements through a broader range of advancements in packaging automation. Input from the packaging machinery community is being sought with regard to these refinements. The OMAC Plug-and-Pack Workgroup has also been known as the OMAC Packaging Workgroup.

OMAC Users Group was founded in 1997 by manufacturing technology leaders in automotive, aerospace and related metalworking industries to create an organization through which companies could work together to promote development and adoption of open automation controls. OMAC Users Group membership is open to all manufacturing automation users, suppliers, system integrators, and technology providers.

Current members of the OMAC Plug-and-Pack Workgroup include some of the world's most progressive packagers, packaging machinery manufacturers, control technology providers, educators, trade associations and analysts. End user members include General Mills, Hershey Foods, Nestl?, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, SAB Miller, Unilever and a host of automation and machinery providers from the U.S., Europe and Japan. Supplier and industry members include ARC Advisory Group, Alexandria Technical College, Bosch Rexroth, ELAU, Klöckner Packaging, R. A. Jones, Lidington Industries, Louisiana Center for Manufacturing Sciences, MARKEM, PMMI, Rockwell Automation, Rovema, Roy-G-Biv, Schneider Electric, Schneider Packaging, Siemens, SIG Pack, Yaskawa and many more.

There is no cost for membership, but members are obligated to participate actively toward achievement of the group's objectives.

For information, visit www.omac.org. Or contact Keith Campbell, Executive Director, 717/832-0115 or by email at [email protected].

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