Views from takeover suppliers at the European Industry Forum


ARC held its third Virtual European Industry Forum on 17-18 May. Two sessions were dedicated to Open Process Automation (OPA): one gave end users the opportunity to talk about their approaches and progress in OPA planning and implementation; the second was a roundtable with major service and technology providers on OPA business opportunities.

OPA user session

The session was launched by Andreas Schüller from Yncoris, representative of the NAMUR working group “Information management and tools”, on the importance of standardized information models for digitization. We need information models to be able to communicate effectively between multiple stakeholders within a company and with external partners, throughout the life cycle of assets and the supply chain. By using a commonly accepted structure and semantics, ie an information model, the transmitted data is contextualized in a standard way, and becomes understandable for humans and exploitable for software applications. To be precise, an information model is a conceptual version, and a data model is an implementation of such a model. Applying this to digital twins applied to the fields of engineering design, operations engineering, or operations and maintenance, a common data model will greatly facilitate and accelerate the reuse and exchange of these twins. When using an information platform with a standardized information model, many applications can benefit from (parts of) shared digital twins, using a limited number of connectors. NAMUR aims to create a unified operating data platform using a standard harmonized asset lifecycle information model, “ALC,” that ARC talked about earlier.

Mr. Schüller discussed the role of information models in structuring the Asset Administration Shell sub-models, and the different variations they will have throughout the asset life cycle, for example distinguishing a design parameter value of the value that a particular equipment instance can have when installed in the plant. Comparing the two can be very useful for operations and maintenance personnel to verify plant compliance with design specifications and to avoid “specification inflation” over time. Static parts of Asset Administration Shells (AAS) could be used in the future in process automation to store asset information, asset topology, or asset functions, similar to module-like package standards ( MTP) and dynamic parts of the AAS could store maintenance and operational information in real time.

Jacco Opmeer of Shell Global Solutions introduced the OPA, highlighted the broad membership of the OPA Forum (OPAF) and progress in defining the standard (OPAS). Standard parts have been defined for interoperability, basic configuration and functional blocks. This should trigger hardware and software development for new system components, Distributed Control Nodes (DCNs) and Advanced Computing Platform (ACP). The configuration and portability of applications will then be discussed. Beyond work on technology, OPAF also works on enterprise architecture, certification and business aspects.

ExxonMobil’s Ryan Smeltzer explained that the company has a goal that all industrial control system projects will be OPAS compliant and as a result the company expects business benefits:

  • Earlier exploitation of new technologies thanks to a lower insertion cost
  • Enable reuse and replication of interoperability-based applications
  • Improved data access
  • Reduced system cost
  • Cheaper, better and more adaptable ICS and remote support

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Keywords: ARC European Industry Forum, Information Model, Standards, Open Process Automation (OPA), Equinor, Shell, ExxonMobil, Yncoris, Field Test, Andritz, Schneider Electric, Siemens, Yokogawa, CSI, ARC Advisory Group.

Melvin B. Baillie