Version 3 (modified by gordonrachar, 13 years ago)


The Major Players in the ISO 15926 World


  1. Abstract
  2. Non-Profit Associations
    1. European Process Industries STEP Technical Liaison Executive (EPISTLE)
    2. Process Industries STEP Consortium (PISTEP)
    3. POSC Caesar Association
    4. USPI-NL
    5. FIATECH
  3. The Early Owner/Operators
    1. DuPont, Dow Chemical, Shell and the Summer of 2005
  4. The Early EPCs
    1. Bechtel and Fluor
  5. Software Vendors
  6. International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
    1. Technical Committee 184
    2. Subcommittee 4
  7. Next


The quest of the Holy Grail of interoperability of digital information goes back a half century. A number of organizations have had significant roles, but four deserve special mention:

  • POSC Caesar Association

As the various parts of ISO 15926 are written and approved, they are turned over to the International Organization for Standardization. ISO is responsible for many standards worldwide. To manage them all, it assigns groups of them to technical committees. ISO 15926 is managed by Technical Committee 184, Subcommittee 4, otherwise known as TC184/SC4.

Non-Profit Associations

There are many consortiums worldwide dedicated to common standards for interoperation of digital plant information. For ISO 15926, the interesting ones are members of EPISTLE.

Error: Macro Image(History_Players_EPISTLE.JPG, 500px) failed
Attachment 'wiki:ISO15926Primer_History_Players: History_Players_EPISTLE.JPG' does not exist.

Fig 2 - Relationship of Non-Profit Standards Consortiums

European Process Industries STEP Technical Liaison Executive (EPISTLE)

EPISTLE was formed in the early 1990s. At first it was a consortium of companies involved in the process industry, but later individual member companies withdrew, leaving only three consortia as members: PISTEP, POSC Caesar, and USPI-NL. (In the year 2000, PISTEP and POSC Caesar merged.) Members of these consortia work together to develop specifications and standards designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of information management in the process industries.

EPISTLE's first project was to complete a research project to develop a data model for lifecycle information of a facility that would suit the requirements of the process industries. Initially this involved a standard known as ISO 10303-221. Eventually this became a library of object classes and their relationships known as STEPlib. Work on data libraries forked and followed two paths for awhile. USPI continued the development of STEPlib, while POSC Caesar started its own Reference Data Library (RDL) adding some classes necessary for the process industry. Both libraries were merged back together into ISO 15926 part 4. Part 4 now acts as reference data for part 2 of ISO 15926 as well as for ISO 10303-221.

The EPISTLE Core Model, a generic data model for the process industries, is now standardized formally as ISO15926-2. The EPISTLE Reference Data Library, a standard set of classes, properties and specifications for the process industries, currently up to 17,500, is being prepared for publication. The EPISTLE Templates is an initiative just starting to develop specific templates for specific purposes.


Process Industries STEP Consortium (PISTEP)

PISTEP was created in 1992 to further the awareness of STEP in the process industries. The first phase culminated with major presentations at conferences in London, England in 1993 and 1995. The second phase, until the end of the decade, continued with raising awareness of STEP, by then known as ISO 10303, as well as ISO 15926.

In 2000, PISTEP merged with POSC Caesar, with PISTEP becoming the UK chapter.


POSC Caesar Association

POSC Caesar Association was founded in 1997, as a global, non-profit, member organization to promote the development of openly available specifications to be used as standards for enabling the integration and interoperability of data, software and related matters for e-engineering and e-commerce.

POSC Caesar has a special responsibility for the maintenance and enhancement of ISO 15926 “Integration of life-cycle data for process plants including oil and gas production facilities". POSC Caesar works now as a global standardization organization in close collaboration with other standardization organizations in Europe, USA and Japan.



Uitgebreid Samenwerkingsverband Procesindustrie-Nederland , a.k.a. The Dutch Process and Power Industry Association, was formed in 1997 by a group of plant owners and EPC contractors. USPI-NL’s mission is to serve national and international companies in the Netherlands by coordinating a programme for the development and implementation of electronic de facto and ISO standards for the process and power industry, and to improve the industry’s competitive strength and position in the world market.

Vision of USPI

Companies in the process industries shall be able to share and/or exchange electronically the information needed to design, build, operate and maintain process and power plants using internationally accepted standards.

USPI supports ISO 15926 part 4 and ISO 10303-221.



Fully Integrated and Automated Technology

FIATECH was formed in 2000 as a result of the combined efforts of the College of Engineering in the University of Texas at Austin, and a forum of Owner/Operators that had been created to influence software vendors to better address the needs of plant operators for Lifecycle Data Management.

FIATECH's project, Accelerating the Deployment of ISO 15926 (ADI) was merged with the POSC Caesar Intelligent Data Sets (IDS) project to further develop ISO 15926.


The Early Owner/Operators

If you have read this Primer up to this point, and if you've followed some of the links to reference material, you will have seen a great many Owner/Operators represented in the many organizations and project groups working toward data interoperability.

For Owner/Operators, the driver for implementing ISO 15926 is the ongoing maintenance required when using traditional methods, point-to-point mapping, to automate data transfer. At any given time, the cheapest way to automate data transfer between two applications is point-to-point mapping, using commercial middleware. But maintenance, in any realistic environment, is the killer.

A typical Owner/Operator has several hundred software applications that have to talk to each other. Of course, every application doesn't have to talk to every other application, but if all the applications that did have to communicate were connected, the entire lot would form a single network. But in such a network, with each application having its own upgrade schedule, keeping the point-to-point database maps current and working is a major task. Any time software is updated, there is the potential to change variable names, or the meaning of existing names, whereupon the database maps will break. As we have discussed previously in the Primer, this leads either to constant maintenance (if each application is upgraded to the software vendor's schedule) or ossification (if the organization withholds upgrades to reduce maintenance.)

And we haven't even talked about Mergers and Acquisitions. When two organizations, each with their own software, join together, how can you economically automate the data transfers? As we have discussed before, "doing it" is easy. Doing it "economically" is the tough part.

The obvious way around this is a common language for describing plant objects. The problem is, despite the fact that Owner/Operators basically pay for all the development, research, and development done by EPCs, software vendors, and equipment manufacturers, they, the Owner/Operators, don't have the expertise.

It is beyond the scope of this Primer to highlight every Owner/Operator that has worked on an interoperability project, but three deserve special mention for kick starting ISO 15926.

DuPont, Dow Chemical, Shell and the Summer of 2005

Dow and DuPont were founding members of FIATECH and the Owner Operator Forum. The Owner Operator Forum launched what it called the Life Cycle Data Management Project. Since Dow and DuPont were on the boards of both organizations, they recommended that they merge operations to avoid duplication.

By 2005, FIATECH had been around for five years and interoperability was reaching a critical mass. In August of that year, DuPont, Dow Chemical, and Shell Global Solutions hosted what they called a "Data Integration Workshop". They invited data integration experts from North America and Europe to DuPont's headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware. The delegates represented 22 organizations including Owner/Operators, consulting engineers, and software suppliers.

The workshop had the following deliverables:

  • What are the requirements for integrated digital information?
  • What are the key barriers?
  • What are the potential enablers?
  • What is the current status of potential enablers?
  • What are the current gaps?
  • What actions can bridge the gap?

The result of this was FIATECH's Accelerated Deployment of ISO 15926 (ADI) project. This project was subsequently joined with PSOC Caesar's Intelligent Data Sets (IDS) project, since both had essentially the same ends.

The Early EPCs

The driver for software interoperability at Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) companies is the repeated cost of mapping applications together. We (your humble author being one of "us") tend to be customer driven, sort of in the manner of Tamara Sperling. What ever the client wants, the client gets. Often, what the client wants involves particular versions of particular software to do particular parts of the design. And in today's market, it is very seldom that one EPC is awarded an entire project. As a result, many projects require custom methods of transferring information from one application to another. (And, unfortunately, this "custom" method is sometimes just having the engineers rekey information from one data sheet to another.)

Then, when a project is finished, we are usually very willing to turn over to the client whatever information we have, but too often, what we have is not quite what the client wants. Engineers are very good at answering questions like "Is this the right widget for the job?" and "Will it fit?" and have pages upon pages to prove we know what we are doing. Owners, on the other hand, want to know "How can I keep it working?" and "How can I fix it (fast) when it breaks?"

Increasingly, owners want to take delivery of the 3D models and databases developed during detail engineering to feed their information systems. Traditional methods of populating an owner's equipment records can take months or years. But the critical period is the two or three weeks following startup. If this issue is addressed early, the information can be there. But populating several thousand SAP equipment masters is not trivial, and not for the feint of heart.

The obvious answer is a common language for describing plant objects. If all of our software used the same data standards we could just "Have your software connect to my software and pull over what you need."

Bechtel and Fluor

Bechtel and Fluor have been heavily involved in what is now ISO 15926 for a great many years. They have supplied key individuals to manage and populate work groups for many of the various interoperability organizations and consortiums both in North America and Europe. Both organizations supply key individuals to POSC Caesar in Europe and FIATECH in North America.

Software Vendors

For software vendors, the driver for common standards for software interoperability is to be able to eliminate the cost of maintaining several standards. One of the major efforts when writing new plant software is modeling the information and designing a database structure, or schema. If there were a common standard that everyone followed, only one standard would need to be designed into the software. And if there were a worldwide standard for representing plant objects, there would be no need to create new methods. This would let the developers concentrate on the things that make a difference to users, like usability and functionality.

International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

Error: Macro Image(History_Players_TC184_SC4.JPG, 500px) failed
Attachment 'wiki:ISO15926Primer_History_Players: History_Players_TC184_SC4.JPG' does not exist.

Fig 1 - The Relationship of ISO 15926 to ISO

Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the International Organization for Standardization was founded in 1947. It is composed of some 160 member bodies, 43 correspondent members, and 11 subscriber members, although the numbers vary by a few each year. The various members are agents of their respective countries where the ISO standards often become law. Every nation on Earth is eligible for membership, and the overwhelming majority have joined.

The range of standards covers most every human endeavor. For instance:

  • ISO-1, "Standard reference temperature for geometrical product specification and verification", defines the temperature (which happens to be 20C) at which materials must be when taking measurements that will be used for comparison in different places.
  • ISO-2 is a standard for the direction of twist in yarns.

ISO cooperates with a great many other standards organizations world wide.

Individual standards are written and managed by representatives of the industry affected by the standard, not ISO staff. The role of ISO is more to make sure individual standards are developed with as wide, and fair, as possible representation.


Technical Committee 184

ISO assigns large subject areas to its technical committees. Technical Committee 184, "Automation systems and integration", is responsible for ISO 15926. To date the committee has published 680 specifications and has 117 work programmes in progress.

From the TC184 website, its scope is:

"Standardization in the field of automation systems and their integration for design, sourcing, manufacturing and delivery, support, maintenance and disposal of products and their associated services. Areas of standardization include information systems, robotics for fixed and mobile robots in industrial and specific non-industrial environments, automation and control software and integration technologies."

TC184 further subdivides its scope between several Subcommittees.

Subcommittee Title
TC 184/AG Advisory group
TC 184/SC 1 Physical device control
TC 184/SC 2 Robots and robotic devices
TC 184/SC 4 Industrial data
TC 184/SC 5 Architecture, communications and integration frameworks


Subcommittee 4

ISO TC 184/SC4 is the standards body within ISO that sets standards for Automation systems and integration with a focus on Industrial Data.


  • Develop and publish international standards for the representation of scientific, technical and industrial data.
  • Develop methods for assessing conformance to these standards.
  • Provide technical support to organizations seeking to deploy such standards.


  • A business environment with a network of enterprises, inter-related by producer-purchaser and partnership interactions.
  • A data model that:
    • Includes product and process data to support the enterprise.
    • Is easily partitioned.
    • Implementation of software, independent of schema to share and exchange this data.



The POSC Caesar Association is a global, non-profit organization founded to promote the development of standards that enable software integration and interoperability. POSC Caesar has a special responsibility for ISO 15926 and works now as a global standardization organization in close collaboration with other standardization organizations in Europe, USA and Japan.

About PCA
Reference Data Services