PDM Interview Derek Middlemas, Intergraph (December 1999)

Intergraph is best known for its CAD/CAM software, but as DerekMiddlemas points out, the new trend is for standards-based product management throughout the life-cycle of a facility. Intergraph’s flagship Notia data warehouse is one of the first implementations of the POSC/CAESAR data model.

PDM - we have been looking at interoperability as viewed by different actors in the upstream and are interested as to what data needs to be exchanged for performant interoperability. In the Plant Information Management (PIM) environment, do you need a common data model for interoperability, or are lighter-weight solutions the way forward?

Middlemas - I'm not sure that we know the optimum amount of data to transfer for interoperability. What we do know is that the standards for data exchange are at the stage where they can be really used - I'm thinking particularly about the new POSC/CAESAR Association (PCA) Oracle Cartridge. Our flagship product for Plant Information Management - NOTIA uses the PCA snapshot data model and we will be migrating this to the EPISTLE V3.0 data model when this is available.

PDM - to what extent is the high-tech data modeling approach to PIM a European - or even a Norwegian - phenomenon. Are these universal standards?

Middlemas - There is a North Sea bias here. Our client base for the PCA based product includes Statoil, Saga and Norsk Hydro but we also have BP and Elf. I believe that the US market lags behind Europe in the field of standards-based data management. Notia implements standards-based data management by managing equipment tags and asset data and by building a 'once and for all' repository for project data. Data used to be spread all over the place in many different applications. For Elf, it was a big problem just getting hold of the right data item. For example the construction process, which tends to have a short term ‘design and build’ focus, could not supply a comprehensive and accurate tag register. This is an essential requirement and starting point for the future maintenance, change management and ultimately decommissioning of the asset.

PDM - why the difference between EU and US?

Middlemas - Most large engineering companies have their own information systems. These costly legacy systems have slowed development of standards-based open systems in the US. European companies appear to have less of a legacy-focus, and are convinced about standards.

PDM - but is there not a feeling elsewhere that this data modeling exercise is too ambitious to produce real benefit?

Middlemas - I don't think so. You do not need to map the whole business process to get the benefits. For Elf, Notia manages all equipment tag data in one system which alone brings considerable immediate benefits. The tag repository can be used to feed maintenance systems and the same tags can be associated with documents in a Document Management System. Sounds easy, but before this was a real problem area, and by enforcing the single-source tag repository, we have identified all sorts of data quality issues. In addition, the repository is hooked in to SAP bringing more real benefits.

PDM - what is Intergraph's role in Open Synergy

Middlemas - Open Synergy is a Prismtech brand name. Project Synergy itself is an Oracle managed project to produce a POSC/CAESAR data cartridge for Oracle 8i. Intergraph is a technical partner in Project Synergy.

PDM - And what exactly does Notia do?

Middlemas - Notia stores and manages drawings generated in 2D and 3D CAD applications and allows them to be distributed and visualized within the corporate workflow. Notia is built with XML data exchange standards 'through and through' and XML is used to trade data with applications. We are very enthusiastic about XML - it has proved tremendously efficient and is just the tool for the job.

PDM - talking of XML and openness - will you be publishing Document Type Definitions (DTD's)?

Middlemas - We have a lot of ideas along these lines, but there are of course commercial issues. We are also watching initiatives such as BizTalk.

Click here to comment on this article

If your browser does not work with the MailTo button, send mail to pdm@oilit.com with PDM_V_3.3_9912_21 as the subject. Copyright © 2000 The Data Room - all rights reserved.

© Oil IT Journal - all rights reserved.