February 06, 2006
Managing Workflow with Standards and Interoperability
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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About this Issue….

Welcome to AECWeekly! During daratechPLANT 2006, attendees were invited to visit “salons,” rooms set aside on the hotel's balcony for vendors to showcase their technology. I visited the following salons and/or met with representatives from: Bentley, Intergraph, AVEVA and Autodesk. As I mentioned last week, Autodesk had a salon designed to attract users who might help them decide on what plant and process solutions were needed from that company. The other companies offered demonstrations, with much attention on the ISO 15926 standard and interoperability. Read about it in this week's Industry News.

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Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

Managing Workflow with Standards and Interoperability

by Susan Smith

During daratechPLANT 2006, attendees were invited to visit “salons,” rooms set aside on the hotel's balcony for vendors to showcase their technology. I visited the following salons and/or met with representatives from: Bentley, Intergraph, AVEVA and Autodesk. As I mentioned last week, Autodesk had a salon designed to attract users who might help them decide on what plant and process solutions were needed from that company. The other companies offered demonstrations, with much attention on the ISO 15926 standard and interoperability.

Bentley Plant, Bentley Systems

Anne Marie Walters, director of marketing, Bentley Plant, Bentley Systems, said that this year people are beginning to realize what sets Bentley apart from the other companies in the plant space: interoperability. Interoperability is key to Bentley Plant's focus and they are actively involved in the building of the standard ISO 15926, presented at the conference by FIATECH. “We're putting our investment into making our products interoperate both with themselves and with third parties,” said Walters. “We see interoperations and interoperability between different systems as being far more important than creating a better way of running a pipe. We try to show [in our salon] the ability to be able to have different people on different systems working in different corners of the world, not all linked into some great central system, but literally going away and doing their own things and coming back together and being able to manage that flow of information. They can manage people working disparately on disparate systems.” Walters said that today's plant and process world is much different than it was in the 90s, when it was feasible to have everyone working on one system. “People aren't working that way now,” she pointed out. “Now you have a distributed supply chain and engineering resources are so short, you've really got to get the
engineers where ever you can. You have to work with people on different systems at different times with different skill levels. The key is managing the interaction between all these things.”

This is where DigitalPlant, the name for Bentley's family of plant solutions, comes in. It includes their ProjectWise group of servers which includes e-Warehouse now, which is a their central core managed server-based that can distribute, manage information, spread it out globally, then bring it back, and see the impact of change.

The change in information is tracked as it moves across the lifecycle so it serves up the right information at the right time to the right people who need it and manages the tracking of the information as it goes through different systems with different people working on it. It moves through the various stages of design through to fabrication and construction, and operation. ProjectWise has the power to break things into packages to control access and security to those packages, and to be able to compare and contrast differences between files, manage files alongside the data, and be able to cache information.

Walters noted that Rob Whitesell, who participated in the CTO debate at daratechPLANT, was the founder of e-Warehouse from ESSI, a company that Bentley acquired. Whitesell has been working with the ISO 15926 standard since its inception, and he is now in charge of Bentley's plant software development. In making all the acquisitions Bentley has made in recent years, Whitesell has had to face the same issues of bringing applications together to form a complete engineering design and package that you can route into operations and maintenance as customers must do. According to Whitesell, ISO 15926 is a great standard for enabling the exchange of information between different applications.

“We're building 15926, it is the heart of the data management layer of the lifecycle server layer of our managed environment,” said Walters. “We're the only vendor that is making our applications interoperate in 15926, really building it into the heart of what we do. We're not talking about building our proprietary environment that you then have adapters to get to and from. Our environment is the open data standard, 15926, which is why we're so behind it, and why we want the industry to adopt it.”

ISO 15926 has been adopted very successfully by the oil and gas industry and adopted by FIATECH, who have taken on a project called Accelerating Deployment of ISO 15926. ISO 15926 has been deployed more as a data standard than a graphics standard, according to Walters. “What needs to be looked at is applying it to also support 3D graphics. Now it's being used to exchange non-graphical packets of data, and all the characteristics of objects such as their temperatures, pressures, weights, very much the data model level. There is a exchange format that has been developed by Neumenon who linked 15926 with STEP ISO 1030 and from that combination created XMpLant. “All vendors use
XMpLant to exchange 3D models and this is what we use to link to create a PDF model and read it into PlantSpace. AVEVA uses it as well to bring data in and out of PDMS.”

“ISO 15926 as a standard that is constantly evolving,” Walters remarked. “It is very flexible: it can fit with individual company standards, it's developed in such a way that it is adaptable to many different situations, which is why it's so successful. It's hard for a software company to develop it. We created a tool to help us manage 15926 and manage the data model, manage the individual data models we have with our customers and those that we have internally with our own applications. It's called the Class Editor, and it's a standalone tool that helps the customer edit and manage their 15926 data models.”

Class Editor is available also to other vendors. In October 2005, Bentley made the offer that for anyone interested in accelerating the adoption of 15926, they would make available the Class Editor to them. At daratechPLANT Bentley distributed it to CH2M Hill, Bechtel, and AVEVA. In summation, Walters declared: “We want 15926 to be adopted and we also are an open organization.”

Intergraph Process, Power & Marine

John Sanins, technical director, Process, Power & Marine, Intergraph, made the move from AVEVA to Intergraph this past May, where he had headed up the Vantage plant design development there.

With his broad background in the plant and process industry, Sanins stated that Intergraph Power, Process and Marine has led the global marketplace for 25 years for plant design software, with PDS as a defacto used on major capital projects. PDS is still used on small to large projects and is still developed. However, Intergraph invested R&D in developing SmartPlant about 11 years ago, “to extend beyond design and modeling to the next step which is data management.” Sanins said that Intergraph is the leader in that solution. “With SmartPlant 3D we've extended the concept of datacentric solutions by integrating not only the modeling aspects, but integrating in terms of
enterprise based applications. SmartPlant enterprise is the primary component of that solution, and comprises a combination of a number of key components: modeling, data management, document management, workflow that is managed electronically.”

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