I recently had a conversation with a manufacturing manager who was looking for a new CMMS / EAM software package. His current maintenance management / asset management application is old and cumbersome. His comment was that he surely wished that there was at least one CMMS that was interoperable with other plant systems.

This is a common theme. Interesting that I heard this yet again. Interoperability comes up all the time. A search of this blog revealed 115 citations over 8 years or so. Recently I discussed the Open O&M Initiative demonstration, a PLCOpen activity and reported on a conversation about the Open O&M Initiative. I’ve been writing about the value of OPC UA for interoperability for more than five years.

I have also brought this up to industry CEOs and CTOs.

The major suppliers are all playing a balancing game between making all their products work together well and opening up their systems for some level of interoperability. I don’t think they are cynical and evil about it. It’s just that if one supplier develops all the components of a system, then it can assure that they will all play together at the most foundational level of technology. It’s the Apple argument against the Microsoft/PC argument.

But there comes a point in an automation system that different systems must coexist at some level. This is interoperability. We need those connectors where information gathered in one application can be shared by another application.

There is much progress in many automation technologies. Sharing information seamlessly among applications has great value to this manager–and thousands like him. But the CMMS people are lagging. Time for them to get with the program.

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