Dedham, Massachusetts; -- Traditionally associated with open architecture controls for CNC applications, the OMAC Users Group has evolved to the point where it is now an epicenter of activities applicable to process and hybrid manufacturers as well as its original discrete manufacturing constituency. This evolution was recognized recently through elevation of an end user evangelist for open packaging machinery, Andrew McDonald of Unilever, to the position of Co-Chairman of the OMAC Board of Directors. The changing of the guard was accompanied by an organizational realignment that not only reflects the group’s expanded mission, but also provides a support infrastructure for working group activities and validation of deliverables.
Packaging Workgroup Paves the Way
Mimicking the structure of its influential Packaging Workgroup, OMAC has organized the remainder of its working groups under executive committees that reflect similar interests within each. The Packaging Workgroup structure includes five subteams: PackConnect, PackSoft, PackML, PackAdvantage, and PackLearn, plus representatives from technology providers, OEMs, and end users, as well as publicity and support organizations. Translating this model to the remaining OMAC activities resulted in formation of executive committees devoted to Manufacturing Infrastructure and Machine Tools. The Manufacturing Infrastructure work group includes the Microsoft Manufacturing User Group (MS MUG), a team whose deliverables to date have been applicable across all industries, as well as the OMAC Architecture work group that issued the original Baseline Architecture Functional Requirements document in 2002. The Machine Tools subgroup embodies the original OMAC focus on this area with activities related to adoption of STEP-NC and a common CNC HMI.
Beyond mere organization into subgroups of related work group activities, the new OMAC organization has formalized support resources for the benefit of each working group. In keeping with the model provided by the Packaging Workgroup, each work group now has an executive team with representation for technology providers and OEMs as well as end users. These teams are further buoyed by technical support and proof of concept validation from the Louisiana Center for Manufacturing Sciences (LCMS) and marketing and administrative support from leading manufacturing industry analyst firm ARC Advisory Group.
Validating OMAC-Compliant Vendor Offerings
Recent introduction of packaging machinery compatible with the PackML state model from the OMAC Packaging Workgroup has furthered the need for a mechanism to recognize when a supplier offering is complaint with the guidelines set forth by OMAC working groups. This issue is also applicable to the MS MUG’s recent endorsement of the Designed for Windows XP certification, but is of less current concern for that group due to the current provision for supplier self-certification.
In order to elevate this issue in the interest of resolution, the new OMAC Board of Directors (renamed from ‘Advisory Board’) includes the position of Processes and Validation Director. The overall mandate for this position is to define a process whereby technology providers and suppliers can be recognized as conforming to OMAC User Group guidelines. In practice this director is to define the validation processes, test and accreditation partners, and workgroup-partner coordination. A key part of this role will be to ensure OMAC member companies are protected from any liability arising out of these validation efforts.
The OMAC Users Group is dedicated to driving non value-added costs out of manufacturing by improving automation flexibility and capabilities and reducing system integration costs. OMAC Users Group membership is open to all manufacturing automation users, suppliers, system integrators, OEMs, and technology providers. Further information is available at http://www.omac.org or by contacting Dick Witkemper, Maximum Spindle Utilization, at 812-526-8250 or [email protected]† Information about joining the OMAC User Group can be obtained from Dennis Daniels, ARC Advisory Group, at 781-471-1112 or [email protected]