"As we have realized the need for more emphasis on end-of-line operations and a specific control strategy for operations downstream from the filler in total, PackML starts to come into play," said Doney. "It provides solutions for interconnectivity between the unit operations, and by providing a communication structure to report information up the line."
He said integrators like PackML because they know that, as they go from machine to machine on the line, the faults will have a similar tagging format. Integrators can configure the line control to fit the application. Today, the first thing they often have to do is to review the internal structure of the programming for each machine and adjust the programming to access the information needed to implement the line control.
Many of these functions were not implemented in the past because networking technology wasn't where it is today. As networks have evolved and Ethernet has emerged as a connectivity solution between machines and upstream, it has opened the door for what PackML can offer in terms of line diagnostics. "Users can now have an expected performance of the line, composed of the product of its parts. On a given day, if expected performance drops 5 to 10 percent, it is easy to go back and identify the reason," said Doney. "We can find out if the problem has been fixed or not and if it is something that over time is creating a degradation affecting hitting the target."
PackML enables users to get information from each of the machines with enough detail to analyze what is contributing to downtime. The software is designed to help simplify overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) reporting, solve problems quicker, and prioritize resources based on where the data shows it will provide the most benefit.
The goal is to move away from needing an engineer or high-level technician investing hours into investigating why the line is stopping and the duration of the stops. All the information is in the control of the machine, and PackML becomes a tool to extract that information. "If it takes several tries to clear the jam, it might be the same fault five times with a one-minute duration or one fault with a five-minute duration. It's a lot to ask the operators to keep detailed records and also keep the line going," said Doney. "PackML has the potential for enabling better running of the line with a more flexible workforce that can move from unit operation to unit operation. With the idea of a common look and feel, they don't need to be retrained on specific machines to know status and fault information."