JAN-FEB 2018

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INTECH JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 9 COVER STORY T he Open Process Automation™ Forum (OPAF), launched in November 2016, is defining a standards-based, open, secure, multivendor, interoperable control architecture to satisfy the technical and business require - ments of process industries. A major driver for this effort has been the widespread call for accel - erating the modernization of automation tech- nology, along with an ecosystem of suppliers that can leverage the latest technology in ways analogous to the evolution of the computer, tele- communications, consumer electronics, mili- tary defense, and avionics industries. OPAF is a forum of The Open Group, which is a consensus-based standard group of end us ers, suppliers, system integrators, standards or ga- nizations, and academia with the mission to develop the Open Process Automation Standard (O-PAS). Don Bartusiak, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering, chief engineer, process con- trol, and co-chairman of The Open Group Open Process Automation Forum project, has framed the issues by asking three thought-provoking questions: l Would you accept your Verizon cell phone if it could not talk to a phone with AT&T, Sprint, Vodafone, or another carrier? l Would you accept having to rewrite all your Word documents, spreadsheets, and presen- tations if you switched your home computer from a Dell to an HP? l Would you accept that you must have a dedi- cated router from your Dell PC, a second router for your Apple computer, a third router for your Samsung phone, and a fourth router for your iPhone? His conclusion is that this is the state of pro- cess automation control systems today. Con- trol systems are so tightly coupled functionally that end users cannot integrate best-in-class solutions. They are trapped by the current closed architectures with highly gated vendor- managed partner ecosystems. History The root of the OPAF initiative was a corporate project at ExxonMobil to understand how the company would compete in the future, recog- nizing the significant shifts in technology as enablers for new competitors worldwide. This led the company to an understanding that open interoperable process automation systems would be re- quired to compete. User survey The problem of replacing legacy systems is prevalent throughout the industry and reflect- ed in the results of a Frost & Sullivan survey. It asked distributed control system (DCS) users: "What are the top five issues with current dis- tributed control system architectures?" The big- gest issues were: l The difficulties associated with replacing a DCS are significantly higher than those as- sociated with replacing or upgrading other computer-based systems (68 percent agreed). l The cybersecurity models for currently avail- able DCSs will be difficult to adapt to future cloud-based services or managed cybersecu- rity services (61 percent agreed). l The pace of innovation for DCSs is typically slow compared to other information technol- ogy (IT) systems (61 percent agreed). l DCSs at my facility/organization require re- placement in large part due to system obso- lescence (inability to integrate with newer equipment or systems) (54 percent agreed). l DCS compatibility between generations is poor (even if the supplier stays the same) (53 percent agreed). Note: The results are based on 53 survey com- pletions and 13 interviews. Birth of OPAF ExxonMobil approached The Open Group to initiate a new open standards activity for the process control industry. From March to Sep- tember 2016, ExxonMobil and The Open Group staff worked to build a "coalition of the willing" comprising end users throughout industries using process control and their key suppliers. During this time, the organizations built interest and identified potential participants via public outreach meetings, webcasts, and face-to-face conversations. As the incubation work proceed- ed, it became clear that there was interest from FAST FORWARD l The goal is to create a process automation industry standard that generates an ecosys- tem of suppliers using the latest technology. l The new standard drives change that paral- lels the evolution of the computer, telecom- munications, consumer electronics, military defense, and avionics industries. l A new coalition of end users throughout the industries using process control are defining the standard.

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