It’s not uncommon for secondary packaging systems to be comprised of a machine hodge-podge: a case erector and packer from one company, a sealer from another, and conveying, check weighers and metal detectors from any number of different suppliers. With a variety of machines using different controls technologies, the question becomes: how do you get all the machines to work together as an efficient, cohesive unit?
First introduced by the industry group OMAC in 2003, Packaging Machinery Language (PackML) was created to address that particular issue by providing a consistent means of communication between automated packaging equipment as well as between machines and factory-level Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES). Incorporating common program styles, data exchange and operational modes, PackML has provided substantial benefits to end-users, OEMs and integrators.
In addition to providing machine interface consistencies, PackML also reduces engineering and training costs, increases overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and reliability, simplifies the integration process and shortens project cycles, all leading to a reduced total cost of ownership (TCO).
Traditionally, OEMs created proprietary machine language programs for their individual customers. Developing the same code in different formats for various users was time consuming, yielded unreliable results and came at a high cost to end-users who paid to develop, maintain and enforce these specifications. PackML is an open standard that can be used repeatedly across different machines, saving time, associated expenses and enabling OEMs to focus on improving machine performance instead of devoting time to integrating and troubleshooting various machine languages. And since compliant machines can communicate easily with one another, large translating systems between machines are no longer needed.
With a consistent data and control structure in place, the integration process on a machine-to-machine and machine-to-SCADA/MES level is faster and more manageable. Commissioning requires fewer personnel since service technicians are capable of performing programming tasks previously reserved for engineers with specialized knowledge of custom programs.
Additionally, maintenance technicians require less training to prepare for what they will encounter in the field. Fault data is displayed in a common location across machines for a straightforward troubleshooting process resulting in decreased downtime.
From machine production, implementation and beyond, the utilization of PackML benefits all stakeholders. End-users, however, are the real winners – less time and subsequent resources devoted to “figuring things out” means more time for systems to be operating efficiently.
Among the first companies in the secondary packaging industry to adopt PackML, Pearson Packaging Systems standardized all of its machines in 2007. Since that time, PackML has hastened the program development process and simplified troubleshooting for our engineers and service departments alike. Customers have been able to benefit from shorter build cycles, quicker deliveries to their facilities and faster startup and commissioning processes.
Ready to speak PackML too? Contact us at 509.838.6226 to discuss your particular end-of-line application.