NIST helps capital facilities industry join information revolution

10/27/04

The capital facilities industry, which includes everything from power plants to commercial buildings, engineering, construction and management firms to all kinds of suppliers, has been slow to harness information technology for the design, procurement, installation and maintenance of equipment. Too often industry partners have unique software systems and cannot exchange information with other software systems. This causes inefficiencies, delays and sometimes errors. Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are collaborating with industry to overcome such difficulties.

NIST with FIATECH (an industrial consortium for advancing the integration and automation capabilities of the capital facilities industry), and with other industrial organizations, has developed specific consensus language for various types of project and technical information. This data exchange vocabulary, called the Automating Equipment Information Exchange (AEX) XML Schemas,* specifies ways to express everything from pump design conditions to procurement dates.

Just as Hypertext Markup Language or HTML uses standard "tags" to identify web page titles, links or images, AEX uses XML schemas and standard descriptors to describe the size, configuration and performance requirements of capital facilities equipment. Companies with software systems that use the AEX format will be able to exchange information about equipment seamlessly, without having to rekey data or laboriously match up requirements manually. The standard will be particularly useful for streamlining and automating design collaboration and responding to requests for bids for equipment purchases.

On Oct. 12, software vendors attending the FIATECH Technology Conference in Houston demonstrated the use of AEX Version 1.0 for exchanging information on centrifugal pumps, a major product used in capital facilities.

NIST and FIATECH plan to extend the AEX schemas to cover other types of equipment, including compressors, fans, motors, valves, pressure vessels, storage tanks, transmitters and more types of pumps.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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