The Interoperability Problem

The capital projects industry significantly lags behind in its ability to share and process information. One of the largest problems facing any capital project or capital facility operation is timely access to accurate, complete information. Companies spend millions of dollars each year searching for data that exists but is not readily accessible.

The cost of poor interoperability is high

Maintaining consistency of the interpretation of the information in this environment, allowing for more-or-less constant change, is very costly – estimated at an annual cost of $15 billion according to the well-known NIST study that measured the efficiency losses in the US capital facilities industries resulting from inadequate interoperability.

The fluid nature of capital projects makes this problem especially difficult. Teams are formed for a project with multiple partners chosen from a myriad of fields. Each partner brings its own knowledge to bear on its segment of the work. However, data exchange is complicated by disparate business processes, lack of an accepted industry standard for data exchange, and a general reluctance to share business-sensitive information.

Complicating matters further, IT systems offerings aren’t well aligned with what people do all day; the interfaces between the systems people use aren’t well aligned with the interfaces between work processes.

In addition, the sheer size of the industry and the diversity of its interests present huge barriers to the sharing of information. Information flow is further hampered by poor interoperability between systems, competing standards for managing data, and lack of a common methodology for managing a project’s information assets. Companies recreate the same information at great expense from project to project, and useful knowledge gained by key individuals through experience  gets lost over time. Archived legacy data can also outlive the systems that are able to render read or understand their content, which prevents the reuse of knowledge and information. And finally, data deficiencies drive up project time and costs – and are a root cause of problems across the project and facility lifecycle.

Standardizing on Information Exchange and Interoperability

The capital projects industry is addressing these issues by endorsing iRING (ISO15926 Real-time Interoperability Grid).  In collaboration with the iRING Users Group and the Fiatech and POSC Caesar associations, iRING provides production-ready ISO 15926 implementation technologies and reference data that enables high fidelity information interoperability and integration for capital projects and facility operations and maintenance.

Using iRING, owner/operators, EPCs (engineering, procurement and construction) contractors, equipment suppliers, and software vendors collaborating on large capital projects can transfer information between heterogeneous applications without the need for costly, error-prone data interpretation and translation. iRING improves information interoperability in each phase of the capitol project lifecycle – from design, construction, handover, and commissioning to operations, maintenance and eventual decommissioning.

The capital projects industry benefits from lower overall project costs, decreased time to start-up operations, improved plant safety, improved maintenance efficiency, and reduced planned and unplanned downtime — resulting in better facility yield, asset performance, and lifetime return-on-assets (ROA). Armed with trusted asset information, operators can comply with regulatory and safety mandates faster, reducing risk and lowering cost.