1 March 2002
Connectivity and maintenance
Interoperability is a key factor in standardization, especially in the new collaborative maintenance, repair, and operating (MRO) standard between the OPC Foundation and the Machinery Information Management Open Systems Alliance (Mimosa). The two organizations hope to merge their expertise in maintenance and repair and connectivity to provide a standard that allows user companies easier access to a common standard.
The main goal is to provide a specific domain solution for maintenance and repair operations. "OPC needs programs to transfer complex data like the vibration spectrum and the infrared thermogram into their systems," said Tom Bond, Mimosa's executive director. OPC's programs typically deal with controlling the valve and measuring with scaler numbersóeasier than handling an image or spectrum that relates to frequency vs. time vs. rotational speeds, he said. "Now we're determining the process by which OPC will envelop Mimosa's specifications for their particular systems."
"With all the MRO systems and applications out there, connectivity and interoperability are still the major problems we hear about from customers," said OPC marketing director Don Holley. "Having a standard that defines a common way to share information between these systems will leverage things in an open, nonproprietary system, where we can use the Internet to access information," he said.
OPC has defined interoperability standards for connectivity to the plant flooróin this case, MRO and the companies' extensible markup language (XML) standards, the universal format for structured documents and data on the Web. The OPC XML standard defines a way to use the Internet or open standards such as XML to achieve interoperability among different systems. Mimosa has defined a data schema for MRO and asset management applications to use and view data, viewing machine data such as uptime, downtime, vibration, and thermography data.
OPC's XML specs provide the connectivity to the real-time data, to the monitoring systems for plant maintenance MRO applications. Mimosa's XML data schema will provide a way to interpret the data from the XML connection. "Companies that will build applications based on these standardsóSiemens, National Instruments, or Rockwellówill use the standards to build these specifications into their own products," Holley said. "Eventually, that will help us define the interoperability between different vendors' systems."
Only time will tell if the collaborators were successful. The real challenge will be "building recognition among users that complex data using Mimosa specifications will be much better at handling a diverse function," said Bond.
"Both companies have momentum behind them," said Holley. "The hurdle is seeing how the benefits will show up in real products."