We’re just six weeks into the year and more events than usual have crowded my daily time—trips, funeral, swim meets, surgery for the wife’s broken arm. I’m behind. Thankfully I don’t put out a monthly magazine and all the peripheral (stuff) that goes with that. In order to divert my mind, I have been reading through (in order of course) the complete Nero Wolfe series from Rex Stout. If you have never been introduced to the genius private detective who settles his seventh-of-a-ton body into a custom desk chair and eats gourmet meals, you’ve missed a treat.

I did take an hour out yesterday morning, getting back to work, to listen in to the media update of the Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF). Introduced at the ARC Forum in February 2017, this effort to forge a standard of standards for process automation interoperability has made progress.

The standards document is well along with six parts. The attempt is not to design a DCS but to harness standards such that interoperability is enhanced making life easier for owner/operators when necessary upgrades are specified.

Most impressive are the five owner/operator test beds authorized for completion in the next year. Companies working on these are ExxonMobil, Georgia-Pacific, BASF, Saudi Aramco/Petronas, and Dow Chemical. Note that these are not all only oil & gas.

Interoperability only works if it can be proved. The conformance working group paces with the standards working group to assure standards and ways to test for conformance develop hand-in-hand.

Not every DCS supplier was thrilled with this project at the beginning. Even if all are on board, I’m not sure how many are whole-heartedly behind it. Even so, this effort will move the entire industry forward toward the owner/operator goal of interoperable technology.

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