The ability to access P&ID design information over OPC UA is part of a bigger concept of an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) ecosystem. Vendor-specific IIoT solutions based on vertical tool stacks are offered to industrial stakeholders, but the interoperability between vendors is limited. This hinders adoption and is an obstacle for small companies that want to develop innovative IIoT services. An IIoT ecosystem based on open standards for most (if not all) plant information can be a future-proof platform for innovation and interoperability, see Figure 6.


Figure 6 - An Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) ecosystem based on standard data formats and communication technologies

The offered data can come from the operation of the process or can be static data, such as design and maintenance information. A communication layer based on an open standard can help to establish homogeneous and secure data access. The IIoT services can combine and process the available information in order to provide solutions ranging from industrial data analytics and visualization to data mining applications for decision support and process optimization.

Since the P&ID is recognized as a key design information diagram for industrial processes, it is valuable to be part of this open ecosystem concept. The ISO15926/DEXPI standard and specification was chosen as the most mature offering for P&ID interoperability between software vendors.

This case presents the DEXPI OPC UA specification as an enabler for dynamic exchange of P&ID information to the next steps of the system design lifecycle and to subcontractors who are interested in parts of the process or in specific equipment (see Figure 7).


Figure 7 - Secure data handover between design and system lifecycle phases and between owners and subcontractors can be facilitated by the DEXPI OPC UA specification

The OPC UA server can always have up-to-date P&ID data and other project stakeholders (e.g. subcontractors) can view/edit them (if they have the access rights).