Short answers to some frequently asked questions.

What exactly is ISO 15926?

ISO 15926 is an international standard for information interoperability (access, query, and transmission) and integration (relationships and associations between occurrences of information), which has wide adoption in the capital projects and facilities industries.

Why do we need ISO 15926?

The short answer is: So that we can exchange and reuse complex plant and project information more easily and more cheaply. A slightly longer answer is: To mitigate the risk and current high costs of rekeying and reformatting information to move it from one proprietary system to another.

The industry exchanges information today, why a new standard?

First thing is that ISO 15926 is not new.  ISO 15926 is a collection of knowledge and “best practices” accumulated over the last 20 years.  Secondly, ISO 15926 has the capability to exchange information with the least amount of cost and risk.  And thirdly, with so many standards in use, ISO 15926 can natively inter-operate between all that diversity as well as the systems directly.

Is the ISO 15926 standard final?

The specifications are issued and ready for use.  Since the standards operates like a natural language with a grammar and vocabulary, the vocabulary, known as the referenced data, is organic and keeps growing to cover new business concepts and needs.  That particular facet is never “final”, which fits the real world of ever changing business requirements.

Are there industry studies that quantify the cost/benefit of adopting ISO 15926?

The most famous study was performed by NIST in 2002 entitled “Cost Analysis of Inadequate Interoperability in the U.S. Capital Facilities Industry“. Based on interviews and survey responses, $15.8 billion in annual interoperability costs were quantified for the capital facilities industry in 2002.

What are some good references on ISO 15926?

A good starting point is the book “An Introduction to ISO 15926”.  Other good resources could be found at Fiatech and at PCA.

Where can I get the ISO 15926 standard?

The standard can be purchased, at low cost, from the International Organizations for Standardization (ISO 15926 standard).

Should I read the ISO standard?

People do read it, but the normative document style at times can be very difficult to understand.  If you are new to the standard, you are better served if you start with the introductory material, like the  “An Introduction to ISO 15926” that was recently published by Fiatech.

How can we determine who is compliant?

ISO 15926 compliance is a confusing area for most.  The JORD project will issue a compliance specification document that will provide guidance on compliance.

Is ISO 15926 already in use?

Yes.  Companies in oil and gas upstream and several large EPCs have been using ISO 15926 for over ten years.

Should I use ISO 15926 only between my partners or can I use it inside my company?

You should use it wherever you have interoperability challenges.  That implies you would most likely you use it inside your company as well as between you business partners.  But an important aspect of this answer is that if you intended to use it outside your company, it will be much more difficult to successful implement if you don’t go through the experience of implementing it inside your company first, where you have much greater control and influence at both ends of the information exchange.  You should plan to build your iRING competencies on local in house problems first and leverage that experience and knowledge as you scale to the edge of you business and beyond.

What is reference data and why do we need it?

Once you understand that ISO 15296 operates very similar to a natural language to facilitate communication (interoperability) between two ends, the two most important parts of ISO 15926 is its grammar and its vocabulary.  In ISO 15926 the grammar is the data model and the vocabulary is the reference data.  The data model is complete and the reference data expands to cover new business concepts forever.  The data model is the framework and the reference data defines our world.

How is reference data defined and certified?

A new reference data item, at the point of creation, is “certified” at the lowest level of quality but is immediately available for business use.  The owner of that item can elevate it via various processes and certification services, which ultimately could go all the way up to ISO for the highest certification. All reference data, no matter what certification state they are in, can be used and intermixed to facilitate communication via a process of negotiation among the interfaces.

Is reference data industry specific?

It can be, but the mechanism of classification in ISO 15926 allows a single reference data item to be associated in many different industry domains.  A good example is the reference data item for the Valve Class.  This one class is useful in oil and gas, nuclear, ship building, housing as well as the beverage and restaurant industries.

What reference data libraries and services exist today?

Specialized consultants today perform most services and PCA does offer free public online access to the ISO and PCA extended set of reference data with some minimal services for its membership.  However, JORD is a new not-for-profit business that will provide a wide pallet of robust reference data access and services.

What is iRING and why do we need it?

iRING is a unifying concept with the goal of accelerating the adoption of ISO 15926 and the realization of business value through its pragmatic use.  There are many facets of the interoperability landscape — the 15926 standard, reference data, implementation technologies, organizations, associations, consortiums, user groups, and usage – that are all be represented by iRING.

What is the iRINGTools User Group?

The iRINGTools User Group is the owner of the iRINGTools open source software and provides collaborative guidance and supports to the wider community of ISO 15926 implementers.

What are iRINGTools and how do they help?

iRINGTools is open source software that provides ISO 15926 interface services for any application, reference data management services, and data exchange services to manage the transformation and transportation of business information between companies and systems. In addition to iRINGTools there are other commercial iRING implementation solutions such as XMpLant, .15926 Editor, etc.

How do I get involved and get started with a project?

First you should get an understanding the interoperability challenges in your company.   Once you have that in hand, you can approach many of the collaborative organizations such as Fiatech, PCA, USPI-NL, OpenO&M, and the iRINGTools User Group to get engaged in various interoperability projects that are using ISO 15926.  Stepping into any of these projects is the best way to start by leveraging the rich experiences and knowledge in the iRING community.

Who can help me with our assessment and initial implementation?

Beyond the organizations such as Fiatech, PCA, USPI-NL, OpenO&M, and the iRINGTools User Group, you can also engage various consulting service provides to help with planning and assessment for you project or pilot.

Do we have to wait for industry-wide adoption to realize a benefit from iRING/ISO15926?

No!  Companies have been gaining business value and advantage from ISO 15926 for over ten years.  The challenge for companies new to ISO 15926 is to gain sufficient knowledge to gain similar value and advantage.