OMAC and OPC Foundation jointly released a PackML OPC UA Companion Specification in 2018 — a nearly two-year effort to standardize how PackML information should be modeled in OPC UA. Since its release, technical solution providers have started to create real implementations of the specification. PackML’s standardized machine data and benefits for packaging line integration combined with OPC UA’s agnostic approach for communicating data between systems make them a natural fit for solution providers, OEMs and end users.

To ensure that PackML and OPC UA work well together into the future, OMAC is beginning to look ahead to an update of the PackML OPC UA Companion Specification. A number of industry initiatives — recently completed or in progress — will impact the current PackML OPC UA companion specification. These include:

  • PackML 2020. This is an update to the TR88.00.02 specification that includes some important changes to the base state machine and PackTags, expected completion in 2020.
  • OPC UA Pub/Sub. The original specification was written around the traditional client/server communication model of OPC UA. Later this year OMAC plans to explore how the PackML OPC UA Companion Specification could be extended to standardize PackML implementations using OPC UA Pub/Sub.
  • OPC UA TSN. The OPC Foundation is currently working with other industry bodies to create a TSN communications layer for OPC UA Pub/Sub. This should provide a high speed, deterministic and scalable communications infrastructure that could be very well suited for the type of machine and line integration tasks that take advantage of PackML.

OMAC is currently ensuring that the current PackML OPC UA Companion Specification is aligned with the current version of PackML (TR88.00.02:2015). Later this year, OMAC will begin exploring required updates to the PackML OPC UA Companion Specification to accommodate PackML 2020 and OPC UA TSN. In the long term as the OPC Foundation’s work on OPC UA TSN advances, OMAC will look at extending the Companion Spec further.

Goals for Technology Solution Providers, OEMs and End Users

The primary goals include:

  • Accurate and consistent implementation of the PackML OPC UA Companion Specification across multiple vendors.
  • A standardized PackML OPC UA Companion Specification available immediately when PackML 2020 is released.
  • Additional Flexible and scalable communication architectures supported with OPC UA Pub/Sub.

Join the Team Updating PackML 2020

There’s still time to join the team developing PackML 2020. Cooperation among the members of leading standards organizations provides a beneficial environment for end users, OEMs, and technology providers to collaborate and share best practices that optimize operations. You can help drive the standards and best practices shaping packaging automation by joining OMAC and participating in its Packaging Workgroup. Your business processes, equipment and control systems will, and should, evolve. Implementing PackML and participating in organizations, such as OMAC, will provide real operational benefits today and provide a solid foundation to build on over time. 

Learn more by contacting OMAC at or visiting And meet the members at PACK EXPO Las Vegas, September 23-25, Booth C-1256.