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ISO 15926 Primer

Status of this document: [Working Draft]


Table of Contents

  1. Abstract
  2. Why Do We Need ISO 15926?
    1. A Metaphor - ASCII Text
  3. How ISO 15926 Solves the Problem
    1. The Future with ISO 15926
    2. The Opportunity
  4. Poster Child Examples
    1. Links


[Enter abstract]

Why Do We Need ISO 15926?

The short answer is: "So we can exchange complex plant information with each other easily."

A slightly longer answer is: "To mitigate the current high costs of rekeying, and reformatting information to move it from one proprietary system to another."

For example, take the task of designing and sepcifying a process instrument for a plant modification. Imagine how many times information has to be rekeyed after the instrument is basically designed, until it is installed and commissioned in the target plant:

  1. From the process and simulation design software to the design datastore, likely a datasheet in Excel, or a database.
  2. After transmitting this datasheet to many potential vendors, each vendor will have to enter some of the data values into proprietary software to make a selection.
  3. Each vendor will have to enter some data values into the data sheet (assuming an editable electronic copy of the datasheet is being used) and transmit it back to the engineer.
  4. The design engineer will rekey certain data values into a bid tabulation to make a purchasing decision.
  5. Certain data values from the winning bid will be rekeyed into the engineer's premanent database.
  6. After transmitting the individual data sheets to the owner after commisioning, they are typically rekeyed into an Asset Management System.

The situation is improving. A few years ago the datasheets would have been printed and faxed to the vendors who would manually add what they had to and fax them back--now we email editable electronic files. And there are proposals to streamline the final handover so that it is already in the form required for the owner's Asset Management System--the the configuration costs speak to the complixity of the issue.

What we need is a way for each participant's software to be able to communicate complex information to each other without having to know in advance what needs to be communicated.

A Metaphor - ASCII Text

Most text processing software (spreadsheets, word processors, databases) read ASCII text. Each tool will make the text appear a bit different (this is formatting), but the underlaying data is simply zeros and ones arranged in a sequence that, perhaps by default, the whole world has agreed to use.

ASCII text seems so simple, 99% of the people who use it probably think it is a fundamental building block of computing. While it's not rocket science, it's not really dead simple either. For instance, take the phrase "In the beginning". This is how it looks rendered in binary:

1001001 1101110 01000000 1110100 1101000 1100101 01000000 1100010 1100101 1100111 1101001 1101110 1101110 1101001 1101110 1100111

This is incomprehensible to average computer users. The only reason it seems simple to use ASCII text is that software developers keep the complexity hidden--anyone's text editor can read anyone else's text without having to know anyting about it first. Software developers wishing to write new text handling software don't have to consider the question "What format will my users receive text information?", they can concentrate on simply solving whatever the problem is.

How ISO 15926 Solves the Problem

ISO 15926 is a world-wide system of rendering complex plant objects in a common format so that software developers do not have to ask the question "What format will my users receive plant information?"

If everyone were to use ISO 15926 to store information about plant objects, the problem of moving information between EPCs, between EPCs and Owners, and within an Owners operations, would simply cease to exist.

A consortium of EPCs could collaborate designing a plant, each using its chosen plant design with proprietary work processes. They could share information without having to know anything about it beforehand. Vendor's and EPC's software could connect to each other passing information back and forth. Turnover from EPC to Owner would be a non-issue.

The Future with ISO 15926

Plant information will be stored in ISO 15926 format. EPCs will use Plant Design Systems to create the plant information initially. Owners will take delivery of the database and open it with Plant Operating Systems. Their maintenance department will open the same datastore with Plant Maintenance Systems. Each application will take the bits and pieces it needs and ignore the rest.

The Opportunity

With a common language for complex plant information, enterpreners will write niche applications to expliot certain parts. For instance, someone might write an optimizer for a certain process that simply opens the plant datastore and finds what it needs. Since the format of the input information is no longer an issue, software developers can concentrate on simply solving whatever the problem is.

Poster Child Examples

We need an example of a use of ISO 15926 that saved a bazillion dollars from each of the following:

  • Equipment Vendor
  • Software Vendor
  • EPC
  • Owner/Operator

For this page we will only use "teaser" summaries (50-100 words). On other pages we will go into more detail giving readers a path to follow.

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