Open season for open standards

By Vendors and end-users alike show increasing support for open standards

Sheila Kennedy

Visionary initiatives are often slow to be rewarded. This is the case with the OpenO&M standard for open operations and maintenance system integration. OpenO&M is a collaborative inspiration spawned by MIMOSA and OPC Foundation, and is now shared with ISA-SP95, which has now come to fruition. Although perpetually a work in progress due to ever-changing systems and business practices, open standards have been published and publicly licensed, and both vendors and end users are showing increasing support.

How did OpenO&M evolve? MIMOSA, a nonprofit trade association, was formed in the mid-1990s. Its mission has been to develop and encourage open information standards for operations and maintenance in manufacturing, fleet and facility environments.

In early 2003, MIMOSA joined forces with OPC Foundation, dedicated to interoperability in automation, and together they provided a horizontal strategy for OpenO&M across all industries and the public sector. More recently, a Joint Working Group including ISA-SP95 was formed to apply OpenO&M to the manufacturing sector, as will be described in a forthcoming white paper from the group. By partnering with other vertical consensus and standards bodies, MIMOSA and OPC expect to broaden their appeal to additional industry communities over time.

What are the benefits of the open standards? When knowledge is shared between multi-vendor devices and application systems running on various industrial networks, faster decisions can be made and performance can be optimized. Plants, fleets and facilities depending on complex asset availability benefit from collaborative decision support across operating and maintenance organizations. OpenO&M information standards enable condition-based operations (CBO), condition-based maintenance (CBM), and what ARC Advisory Group refers to as collaborative asset life-cycle management (CALM) strategies.

How are suppliers leveraging the open standards? "Push maintenance" is the term coined by MIMOSA sponsor Indus International to describe its CBM strategy for asset management. OpenO&M allows critical control information to be pushed in real time to decision-makers so proactive service can be timed before an asset fails.

OSIsoft's Real-time Performance Management (RtPM) leverages a CBO strategy to improve enterprise transparency and agility. Open industry standards provide proactive knowledge-sharing between manufacturing and corporate systems, and the flexibility to adapt to evolving systems and technology.

What impact does OpenO&M have on service providers? The advancement of open standards will likely open the floodgates to third-party and OEM service providers, allowing organizations to focus on their core businesses. The decision to outsource maintenance functions will come easier knowing that traditional warranty concerns and the lack of communication between asset, control system and software brands are fast becoming moot issues.

How can end users get involved? You don't need to be a MIMOSA member to benefit from its published open standards, although an active membership will give you a better understanding and position you to help shape the standards.

A new End User Council has been established to convince automation and software suppliers that end users are ready for open, interoperable solutions. The Council allows leading players from a variety of industries to jointly identify priorities and encourage the vendor community to commit to release dates.

"Industry Day" is another concept designed to encourage collaboration between stakeholders of all disciplines, members and non-members alike. MIMOSA President Alan Johnston says, "If people don't get together, it's no surprise systems don't get together."

Where can I find more information? All finalized MIMOSA standards are publicly available at no cost at Also available on that site are links to the ARC Advisory Group Insight, "OpenO&M , A CALM Enabler," and other relevant documents. MIMOSA's next annual OpenO&M Week is scheduled for April 11-15, 2005, in Scottsdale, Ariz., and will include an open Industry Day. Other opportunities for participation, including MIMOSA Technical Committee meetings, will be posted on the events page as they are scheduled.

For more information, see:

E-mail Contributing Editor Sheila Kennedy, Additive Communications, at

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