Methods and apparatus for batch process control in which a Phase Logic Module 100 operable in accordance with the state machine model of the batch server program is embedded within a programmable controller 103. More specifically, a phase 610 executed by the batch server program in a data processing device is operable in accordance with a pre-defined state machine model 170 (typically compliant with the ISA S88.01 standard). A Phase Logic Module (PLM) 100 is implemented within a programmable controllers 103 in accordance with the same state machine model 102, so as to mirror the state machine operation of the batch server process within the programmable controller. The PLM is pre-implemented and standardized.; Specific state logic for performing desired control in accordance with the desired batch processing is defined by a control engineer using well known languages and tools and integrated with the standard PLM state machine. These methods and structure obviate the need for the control engineer to implement customized state processing logic and the associated need to test such complex state processing logic. The PLM in the programmable controller and the phase within the batch server program communicate using a high level communication protocol to exchange state processing information. Another aspect of the invention provides for implementing a PLM in a data processing device to perform sort phase processing (a phase unrelated to process I/O equipment and rather typically related to operator interaction).