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How To Implement ISO 15926

Status of this document: Working Draft

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Contents

  1. Introduction
    1. First Thing - Read the Primer
    2. Second Thing - Have a "Problem"
    3. A Smorgasbord of "Problems"
  2. The Demand for Digital Interoperability
    1. FIATECH
    2. POSC Caesar Association
    3. PISTEP, USPI, EPISTLE
  3. Next


Introduction

Only a few years ago, the most commonly asked question about ISO 15926 was "What is it and why should I care?" That question is still there, but nowadays it is mixed with "How do I implement ISO 15926?"

This How To manual is written to address this question. The intended audience of is someone who is considering implementing ISO 15926 at an organization, but wishes to know roughly what is involved before writing a proposal or committing funds. This guide does not attempt to be a step-by-step, screen shot-by-screen shot "Software Installation" document because the manner in which an organization implements ISO 15926 is, to a large degree, dependent on what it wishes to accomplish.

First Thing - Read the Primer

The first thing you need is an understanding of what ISO 15926 is and what it intends to do. A really good place to start is the ISO 15926 Primer. It will give you a good background to the huge pent-up demand for digital interoperability that is driving ISO 15926; an introduction to many of the organizations that have worked, and are working toward, digital interoperability; the various pieces that together make up ISO 15926; and some ideas to help you think of a good starting point.

Second Thing - Have a "Problem"

The second thing you need is an idea, otherwise known as "a problem", that you want to solve. But at the current stage of the development of ISO 15926, you will be forgiven for asking "What kind of problems can I realistically solve with it?" Some of the early claims of the potential of ISO 15926 sound magical, as if all you have to do is say ISO 15926 and the computer on your desk will start acting like the ones in the movies.

The future of digital interoperability my well be more than we can imagine (for instance, do you think that Orville and Wilber Wright, on the day of their first flight in 1903, could have imagined all the details of modern air travel?) but we've got a bit of work to do. It will be a few years before James Doohan can say "Computer! Transfer the design of the new transparent aluminum futtocks for the modified orlop to the fab shop for cutting!"

A Smorgasbord of "Problems"

There could be a number of different reasons for wanting to know how to implement ISO 15926:

  1. Perhaps you have some interest in an industrial plant under development, and would like to convert the 3D models and associated databases from the various systems of the consortium of EPCs, to one particular plant design system with which you will maintain the plant. You would like to do this efficiently as possible without having to "reinvent the wheel", so to speak, and have heard that ISO 15926 can help you do this.
  1. Perhaps you are caught in the middle, between many other players in the plant design industry, and constantly have to remind yourself to ask "what do you mean by this?", even for simple terms. You would like a common way of describing plant objects that removes the ambiguity, and have heard that ISO 15926 does that.
  1. You might have a particular interoperability problem you wish to solve. (For example, populate a purchase order directly from a 3D plant design system.) You could write your own software to do this, but you would be forever tied to a particular purchase order system and a particular plant design system. You would like more flexibility and have heard that ISO 15926 can help.
  1. Perhaps you are a player in the plant design industry and have heard of the magical power of ISO 15926. You don't have a particular problem that you know about, but you can remember the debate about converting to Windows from DOS ("Why would you ever want to run two programs at the same time?") You don't want to be left behind, but you don't know where to start. You want a clear (or at least clearer) picture before you commit significant resources.
  1. Or perhaps you are an individual who sees ISO 15926 as an opportunity and want to know where you can contribute.

The short answer is "If you're a number 1, go with Proteus! All the rest start with iRING!" But that only moves the question back a level: "What is Proteus? What is iRING?"

Well, funny you should ask. The following diagram is a (very) simplified depiction of how ISO 15926 came to be. We will discuss each of the predecessor organizations and projects, then show why Proteus and iRING are good starting points.

History of ISO 15926

Evolution of ISO 15926

The Demand for Digital Interoperability

Interoperability (or more correctly, the lack thereof) has been an issue ever since computers started showing up in engineering offices. At first, no one thought of it as "digital interoperability", they just said things like "Our CAD system vendor just went out of business. I wish the new system could read the old drawings." or "We've got all the data sheets typed into the computer, why can't your computer just open them?" or at an even more basic level "I wonder how we can use these new computer-thingys to improve our productivity?"

FIATECH

The most influential proponent of ISO 15926 in North America is FIATECH. FIATECH is the offspring of the Construction Industry Institute that was created in 1983 by the University of Texas at Austin. The purpose of the Institute was to bring together Owner/Operators, Constructors, EPCs, and suppliers to develop and promote best practices for the industry. In the late 1990s, it saw how other industries use computers and automation to increase productivity and wondered "Why not construction too?"

Out of this question FIATECH was born in 2000 with the specific mandate to use technology to improve productivity. Its target audience was the "capital projects industry", which includes oil, gas, and petrochemical plants, commercial buildings, shipbuilding, and infrastructure like roads and bridges.

POSC Caesar Association

The POSC Caesar Association (PCA) is the major proponent of ISO 15926 in Europe. It was formed as the union of two other organizations. The Petrotechnical Open Software Consortium was founded as a non-profit, vendor-neutral corporation to create standards to enable sharing information about an asset thoroughout its lifetime. The Caesar Offshore Project was founded by several players active in the North Sea to develop and product model for lifecycle information. With such similar goals, they joined in 1993, changing their name first to POSC/Caesar and then to the POSC Creaser Association. POSC Caesar now operates as a global standards organization with special responsibility for ISO 15926.

PISTEP, USPI, EPISTLE

In Europe, many organizations have sprung up to develop what we now call digital interoperability. In 1992, a number of operating companies formed the Process Industries STEP Consortium (PISTEP) to promote the awareness of STEP (which we will discuss shortly) within the process industry. USPI-NL (you'll have to look the name up, it's a jaw breaker) was founded in 1997 by players in the Dutch process industry with the purpose of coordinating all of the standards that affected the industry. The European Process Industry STEP Technical Liaison Executive (EPISTLE) was formed in the early 1990 with a very similar purpose. Its membership was first made up directly of players in the process industries, as well as consortia who were themselves made up of industry players. Nowadays, the member companies have withdrawn, leaving only the three consortia, POSC Caesar, USPI, and PISTEP as direct members. The goal of EPISTLE is to design standards to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of information management in the process industries.

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