ExxonMobil floats OSAF

Open, secure automation forum to launch next November. Objective is for new vendor-independent, standards-based process control framework for oil, gas and other verticals.

ExxonMobil research and engineering and The Open Group held an ‘Industry day’ event last month to raise awareness of Exxon’s ‘next-generation,’ open, interoperable process control framework. Exxon floated the Framework in a presentation at last year’s Arc industry forum. As some 40% of existing control equipment will need be replaced by 2025, Exxon has set out to explore technology replacement options and future requirements.

The aim is for a distributed, low cost, modular architecture, both to replace todays control systems and HMIs and to add new functionality. The ‘interoperable, open architecture,’ has been inspired by the platform developed by Real Time Innovations for the military and by Face, The Open Group’s ‘future airborne capability environment’ consortium.

Four years of internal R&D resulted in ‘case for action’ and ‘core characteristics’ documentation that formed the basis of a tender for further development. This was awarded to Lockheed Martin last December.

The June 2016 Industry day event saw the official publication the initiative’s functional characteristics documents. Vijay Swarup, VP R&D at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co. said, ‘We continue to challenge ourselves by looking at existing processes and finding innovative ways of working using both internal and external ideas. This breakthrough initiative could help transform refining and chemical manufacturing through high-speed computing, modular software, open standards and autonomous tools.’

The need for an open standard has been driven by the high cost of technology refresh of existing commercial DCS solutions that limits the roll out of leading edge performance. The expense of integrating best-in-class third party components and the absence of intrinsic security were also cited. Current solutions are restraining innovation in the application software market.

Speaking after the event The Open Group’s Jim Hietala told Oil IT Journal, ‘The industry day was well attended with people from many end user organizations and communities, not just oil and gas. The initiative, provisionally called the Open secure automation forum, is a stand-alone The Open Group project to create a standard of standards. As with Face, we will not duplicate work where useful standards already exist. These will be embraced and referenced as we plug any gaps with new standards.’

Exxon and TOG are planning a second Industry day late August and the first Osaf member meet will take place during the 2016 Aiche annual meeting in San Francisco next November. The ultimate goal is for a ‘ready for deployment’ system by year end 2020.

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