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October 24, 2016

Trends in Packaging Automation, and How to Leverage Them When Developing HMI Applications


Wonderware is the global leader in Human Machine Interface (HMI), SCADA and real-time operations management software. Wonderware solutions enable production and industrial operations to synchronize with business objectives to achieve speed, flexibility and sustained profitability. Wonderware software delivers significant cost benefits for designing, building, deploying and maintaining robust applications for manufacturing and infrastructure operations.

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As we are getting ready for the  Pack Expo  we’ve decided to take a close look at the packaging automation market, and discuss ways in which Wonderware software  applications can be developed for the packaging market. To discuss the Wonderware software offerings we will be on exhibit at PACK EXPO  in Chicago from November 6 -9 in Booth S-1640. In addition, Lucian Fogoros, Wonderware Senior Global Product Marketing Manager, Global Solutions, Schneider Electric will be on the innovation stage on  Wednesday November 9, 2016 11:00 AM - 11:30 AM  | Booth N-4570 providing “A practical example of how to get the benefits of OMAC PackML without having to replace the existing PLC” during the Innovation Stage presentation “Machine Performance, OEE and IIoT Connectivity Made Easy”.

 When developing applications for the packaging automation market, either as an OEM or as the application developer for a product packaging line, it’s important to look at some of the trends of the packaging market, and develop applications that not only meet your current requirements, but have the flexibility to develop and change along with the industry. Here are a few trends developing across the packaging industry:

Easily Customizable HMI Templates – Another trend that is applicable to both OEMs and application developers for the packaging of a product line is the standardization of HMIs, and the creation of template applications that can be easily customized. An HMI with a standard look and feel greatly reduces the learning curve required for training machine operators. Template HMIs designed to offer a consistent look and feel make it incredibly easy to reduce both development time and training time for the end user. When creating standardized HMIs and customizable HMI templates, plan navigation and screen options for a wide variety of uses, so that screens can be customized for different machines quickly and efficiently.

 OMAC PackML and Other Production Improvement Resources

Another trend is the OMAC PackML, a controls language standard which improves communication and interoperability between devices. Based on its Wonderware InTouch Machine Edition human machine interface and Wonderware Historian software offerings, the OMAC PackML solution includes the PackML State Model, Control Modes and PackTags, providing a well-defined pattern for describing machine conditions and sharing the information with users and other systems. It simplifies machine-to-machine communication, more tightly integrating packaging systems with production line systems while reducing the communication burden on real-time control systems. Additionally, a configurable user interface shows machine operators exactly how much time they have spent in each machine state and provides an overview of the most common reasons a system might stop. This enables the operator to correct problems in real time, before stops can negatively impact the business.


The solution integrates natively with Wonderware System Platform, Wonderware MES Operations and Wonderware MES Performance software. It can also be integrated with Wonderware Intelligence software applications for access to a greater amount of production data. Such integration contributes to business and line optimization, including new ability to spot bottlenecks and manage work orders, as well as improves overall equipment effectiveness, production execution and traceability. 

 Better Alarming Capabilities to Reduce Downtime – Packaging solutions providers are increasingly requesting better diagnostic and alarming capabilities that will assist in reducing machine downtime and product waste. Many machine builders and packaging solution providers are including alarming capabilities that will allow packaging machine operators to view and acknowledge alarms from wherever they are, via smartphone or tablet. Because one operator may oversee several machines, it’s important that they be able to access individual machines without actually being present at the HMI panel. Developing applications capable of sending alarms to a mobile HMI  can be one way to allow one operator to move down the product line as the product does, and oversee the process from start to finish.  Wonderware software can view alarms on a variety of devices including smart phones.

 A Focus on OEE Dashboards – Another trend in packaging is a greater focus on OEE (overall equipment efficiency), especially now that OEE data can be displayed directly on the HMI as an easy-to-read dashboard, or shared through the Cloud to plant-floor managers who can make decisions during packaging. With access to tablets and smartphones, it’s possible to share OEE data from each machine on a line, and then read that data in easily understood graphics that can enable quicker decisions. Wonderware Software can offer ways to quickly and easily develop OEE capabilities for an HMI system.


Increased Safety Regulations, and Product Traceability – Product traceability is a growing concern among manufacturers, particularly in food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries. This is especially true in emerging markets, such as in Asia Pacific region and Latin America. Packaging solution providers and machine builders can help customers meet this need by developing applications that include automated reporting capabilities that generate detailed reports for each packaging line. In addition, RFID and barcode data can be stored automatically. Additional traceability measures such as operator logins and password protection can improve accountability. Schneider Electric is a leader in providing assistance in creating applications and projects needed in creating Food and Pharma 21CFR Part 11 facilities.  

Predictive and Preventive Maintenance – Properly built HMI Systems include applications of predictive maintenance within the design, allowing equipment to maintain higher levels of operational efficiency.  Perform maintenance at specified maintenance intervals instead of having equipment down-time during production runs.  Schneider Electric can help you design you application to incorporate the latest science in predictive maintenance. Visit our booth to learn more about Big Data management and reporting with Wonderware Online Insight, combining historian, mobile reporting and clients in an SaaS package.

Improved Integration – When packaging trends change quickly, many machine builders and managers worry about obsolescence and a  lack of flexibility in packaging machines. Many machine builders and packaging solutions providers are meeting the need for more flexible packaging lines by choosing HMI/SCADA platforms that can be integrated easily with disparate hardware and systems such as MES and ERP. Wonderware InTouch Machine Edition serves as an excellent platform for these highly integrated systems thanks to patented SQL database connectivity and over 240 native drivers for every major manufacturer of PLCs and controllers, along with industry standard drivers and gateways to other HMIs and platforms.

IoT Connectivity

How does this all tie into the IoT? It starts with HMI connections to a wide variety of sensors and other field devices, which are what makes up the IoT. Many types of machines and other parts of industrial facilities house these devices. Once connected, these devices have access to the Internet through networks and clouds via the HMI.

Whether inside the factory or out, local and remote HMIs are the window into the machine, production, and factory floor.

The HMI connects to a local, in-plant automation network for communication to field devices on a single line, cell, or system via a controller. Smart HMIs also offer the ability to directly connect to intelligent field devices such as motor drives, multi-variable instruments, and analyzers.

As the connection moves outside the plant to distribute data to remote platforms, proper security steps should be taken as discussed above. In some configurations, these remote or mobile HMI platforms connect to the main HMI via the cloud. These clouds can be public, private, or hybrid. Public clouds must be carefully configured to protect data.

Fabio Terezinho, Product Manager for the Wonderware InTouch Machine Edition argues that “Smart HMIs support browser-based mobile access via the cloud, providing instant access to equipment and production data. The open-system authentication process on these HMIs helps users maintain data security without the need to become cybersecurity experts. This authentication process is an industry standard and built in to the HTTP protocol.

Smart HMIs provide built-in tools and menu-driven instructions to allow connection to a wide variety of field devices, either through controllers or directly. Once data is collected, it can be securely distributed through networks and the cloud to a many different types of platforms including thin clients, tablets, and smartphones. The HMI should have tools and menus to enable data distribution in a secure manner without the need for custom programming.” (Fabio Therezinho, “Connecting Automation Systems to the IoT via HMIs”, Machine Design).

Hopefully when developing applications for the packaging automation market you are considering these trends, and develop applications that not only meet your current requirements, but have the flexibility to develop and change along with the industry.

 About OMAC

The Organization for Machine Automation and Control (OMAC) helps manufacturers and suppliers work together to identify new and innovative ways to increase the effectiveness of their production operations. OMAC brings together leading End-User Manufacturers, OEM Machine Builders, System Integrators, Technology Providers, and Non-Profit / Government Agency organizations to address issues that confront global manufacturing today. OMAC’s two working groups, Packaging and Manufacturing, lead the way in producing industry consensus guidelines that help manufacturers reduce their delivery times, be more efficient with available resources, and increase profitability.  More information about OMAC is available at www.omac.org.

For more information about Wonderware InTouch Machine Edition, please visit www.wonderware.com. You may also sign up for a weekly newsletter at wonderware.com/wwtimes.