ISO 10303 AP 239 (PLCS) is a major deliverable from a joint industry and government initiative to accelerate development of new standards for the exchange of assured product and support information, i.e., the information needed and created during the use and maintenance of complex products. The PLCS initiative was sponsored and managed by an international consortium of leading government and industry organizations, known as PLCS Inc. It was a four-year project that commenced in November 1999 to deliver results into the ISO standards developmentframework. ISO Technical Committee 184/SC4/WG3/T8 is the ISO working group responsible for the initiative. All information modules related to the new standard are complete and in the process of publication by ISO. ISO 10303 AP 239 (PLCS) is under ballot to become a full International Standard in 2004.
2. What is the purpose of the OASIS PLCS Technical Committee?
The OASIS PLCS TC works to establish structured data exchange and sharing capabilities for use by industry to support complex assets throughout their complete life cycle, i.e., from concept to disposal. These data exchange and sharing capabilities are based on the new extension to ISO 10303, STandard for the Exchange of Product model data (STEP), developed under the framework of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The new standard is known as ISO 10303, Application Protocol (AP) 239 Product Lifecycle Support (PLCS).
The OASIS Technical Committee will continue the work of PLCS Inc., a consortium of government and industry organizations established in 1999 to specify and develop an international standard for information exchange and sharing related to the life cycle support of complex products and systems.
3. Why did PLCS, Inc choose to transition to OASIS?
The members of PLCS, Inc. planned to close the corporate entity after 31 October 2003 in accordance with their membership agreement. PLCS, Inc. has placed all remaining intellectual property rights (IPR) in the OASIS public domain. PLCS, Inc. believed that the range of existing projects managed by OASIS strongly compliments its own aims and objectives. Forming a Technical Committee within OASIS helps bridge the gap between the business and the product/product support domains. Membership of OASIS extends the number and range of organizations with access to future areas of development. OASIS membership also provides opportunities for application of XML and Web Services to many of the product lifecycle system standards.
4. What is the scope of ISO 10303 AP 239 (PLCS)?
ISO 10303 AP 239 (PLCS) seeks to provide a mechanism to maintain the information needed to support complex products and systems such as ships, aircraft, engines, or oil platforms, in line with the changing product over its complete life cycle from concept through design and manufacture to operation and disposal. AP 239 provides an extension to the capabilities of STEP AP203 (Configuration Controlled Design) and AP214 (Automotive Design Process) and hence the Product Data Management (PDM) Schema and Modules, to address the requirements for Configuration Management over the complete life of individual products. AP 239 also addresses the information requirements needed to define and deliver life cycle support for complex assets. This includes specification of:
Identification and composition of a product design from a support viewpoint (as an extension of the STEP PDM Modules);
Definition of documents and their applicability to products and support activities (as an extension of the STEP PDM Modules);
Identification and composition of realized products;
Configuration management activities, over the complete life cycle;
Properties, states and behavior of products
Activities required to sustain product function;
Resources needed to perform such activities;
Planning and scheduling of such activities;
Capture of feedback on the performance of such activities, including the resources used;
Capture of feedback on the usage and condition of a realized product;
Definition of the support environment in terms of support equipment, people, organizations, skills, experience and facilities
Definition of classes of product, activities, states, people, organizations and resources.
5. What business functionality is enabled by ISO 10303 AP 239 (PLCS)?
The following functionality is enabled by the standard:
Activity Management - Request, define, justify, approve, schedule and capture feedback on activities (work) and related resources
Product Definition - Define product requirements and their configuration, including relationships between parts and assemblies in multiple product structures (as-designed, as-built, as-maintained)
Operational Feedback - Describe and capture feedback on product properties, operating states, behavior and usage
Support Solution and Environment - Define and maintain the necessary support solution for a product in a specified environment including the opportunity to provide support (scheduled downtime), tasks, facilities, special tools and equipment, and personnel knowledge and skills required. PLCS will also relate organizations, personnel and facilities with the product needing support.
6. What is the target market for ISO 10303 AP 239 (PLCS)?
ISO 10303 AP 239 (PLCS) has been developed to meet the needs of governments, original product and/or equipment manufacturers, operators and third party service providers. The common attributes that make PLCS attractive to this user community are:
Complex high value products
Many unique parts and product configurations
Long service life
Demanding in-service support requirements
In-service support costs that encompass a significant portion of the total cost of ownership
The following industry groups could benefit from the adoption of PLCS:
Transportation - Commercial and Military Aircraft and associated Aero engines
Transportation - Commercial and Military Truck Fleets
Transportation - Commercial and Military Ships
Transportation - Locomotives and Trackside equipment
Heavy Industrial Machinery
Oil and Gas Process Plant
In developing the PLCS standard, careful consideration has been given to the requirements of both commercial and military domains. Application Activity Models and the single integrated information model have been rigorously tested against use cases and scenarios from both domains. AP 239 (PLCS) also provides functionality to tailor the standard to the specific requirements of a particular industry/environment or project through Reference Data. This provides unique levels of flexibility and extensibility in the use of the standard, while retaining interoperability.
7. What are the business benefits from implementing ISO 10303 AP 239?
Implementing ISO 10303 AP 239 (PLCS) offers the potential for a wide range of business benefits including:
Improved quality of information throughout the product life cycle and across the supply chain
Ability to bid for contracts specifying ISO 10303 AP 239 (PLCS) as a contractual requirement
Reduced cost of acquiring, maintaining and delivering product configuration information
Improved operational availability due to a reduction in the time taken to undertake essential maintenance and product upgrade operations
Improved configuration management through common data definitions and provision of feedback on as-maintained configuration, usage, properties, operating state and behavior.
Re-use of data and consistent communication across compliant 'off the shelf' software applications
Flexibility in accommodating changes in information management technology through adoption of an independent and open exchange format
8. What is the unique value proposition of ISO 10303 AP 239 (PLCS)?
Implementation of ISO 10303 AP 239 offers following unique values:
The only international standard for the exchange of assured product and support information
Addresses the complete product life cycle from concept to disposal
Facilitates the 'virtual single source' of assured product and support information
Protects information independent from process, system and format
Provides interoperability across enterprises and systems through an integrated information model, as part of the ISO 10303 STEP standard
Supports 'extended enterprise' requirements for data exchange and information sharing
Provides extensibility through the use of reference data allowing tailoring of the standard to suit different product operating domains.
9. What is the OASIS PLCS TC responsible for developing?
The OASIS PLCS TC will define, develop, test and publish standardized Data EXchange Sets (DEX) based on the PLCS standard, and liaise with the ISO working group responsible for STEP development, TC 184/SC4. The OASIS PLCS TC will also coordinate its activities with other relevant OASIS Technical Committees and promote use of DEXs across relevant industry and governments worldwide.
10. Who should be involved in the OASIS PLCS TC?
To ensure that the functionality enabled through the standardized Data EXchange sets (DEX) satisfy a broad cross-section of potential users, it is highly desirable to have representatives from the following government/industry groups involved in the development and testing of the DEXs
Owners/operators of complex products and systems such as aircraft, ships and power generation equipment
Original equipment manufactures (OEM), system integrators, third-party maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) service providers and supply chain representatives
Enterprise Integration software vendors and consultancy groups
Specialist after-market support software vendors and support service providers
Members of OASIS can join the OASIS PLCS TC to gain early visibility of the PLCS standard and contribute to the development of standardized data exchange sets, which include industry testing/validation and usage guides.
11. What is a Data EXchange set (DEX)?
For the purposes of developing ISO 10303 AP 239 (PLCS), a modular architecture was used to construct a single integrated information model. This model was developed in the EXPRESS language. The basic building blocks of the integrated information model are referred to as modules. A Data EXchange set (DEX) is a subset of the overall PLCS information model, comprising one or more capabilities, which in turn are based on the common data modules. DEXs support a specific business process or purpose and can be related to existing information. The developers of ISO 10303 AP 239 used their knowledge and Product Support domain expertise to identify and define the capabilities enabled by each DEX. The use of DEXs will facilitate modular implementation of AP 239. Those applying PLCS and/or vendors providing software applications may claim conformance against a single DEX or a combination of DEXs.
DEXs differ from conformance classes (as defined in many of the STEP Application Protocols) in the following ways:
DEXs are defined to support specific business processes;
DEXs are defined in a separate document from the PLCS Life Cycle Core AP
DEXs may have additional constraints
DEXs (as part of PLCS) may specify the use of specific reference data.
12. How many DEXs are there, which areas do they cover, and when will they be available?
The development of DEXs is an ongoing task; however, the OASIS TC members have identified more than 30 candidate DEX specifications to meet particular industry needs. The current prioritization for the development of those DEXs led to the following proposed list of deliverables for the OASIS PLCS TC:
Product breakdown for support
Work package definition
Product as individual
Work package reporting
Other possible DEXs include
Part Definition information
Part with State
Part as Individual
Part with Interface
Product Status Report
Role Configuration Option
Intended Product Use
Actual Product Use
Product Behavior (Component)
Product Behavior (Assembly)
Resourced Task Specification
Support Solution Justification
Support Opportunity Types
Actual Support Opportunity
Each DEX will be supported by a description that defines its scope and relationship to the individual modules required to achieve the desired information exchange. It is intended that usage guides will be produced for each DEX to ensure consistency in implementation and business application.
13. Is there a relationship or conflict with other standards?
In developing ISO 10303 AP 239 (PLCS), the relationship to other support-related standards has been recognized. ISO 10303 AP 239 (PLCS) builds upon the functionality defined by other standards relevant to product support. These include AECMA S1000D, AECMA Spec 2000M, United States Military Standard 1388, United Kingdom Defence Standard 00-60, etc. Throughout the development of ISO 10303 AP 239 (PLCS), potential for conflict with other standards was removed through ongoing dialogue. Many of the practitioners working on the development of the ISO standard had a background in working with other standards, some are also members of others standards bodies.
In the specific instance of AECMA S1000D, a joint Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) existed between AECMA and PLCS Inc. The MoU established a framework for co-operation between PLCS and the AECMA Technical Publication Specification Management Group with the aim of ensuring compatibility between the two standards. PLCS Inc utilized ANSI/EIA-649 and the UK Defense Standard 05-57/4 Configuration Management standards for the CM framework. PLCS Inc also harmonized their terminology dictionary with the emerging revision to ANSI/EIA-649 and the emerging EIA-836 (Configuration Management Data Exchange and Interoperability) standard.
14. Will PLCS conform to the EIA-836, Configuration Management Data Exchange and Interoperability standard?
PLCS, Inc. worked with EIA-836 to ensure compatibility between ISO 10303 AP 239 and EIA-836. Since EIA-836 grew out of a military standard, MIL-STD-2549, much of the terminology and data sets are military and government oriented. ISO 10303, AP 239 (PLCS) will maintain a neutral data set based on International consensus that will be fully compatible and compliment with EIA-836 data.
15. How will PLCS and DEXs help me support and operate software applications from different vendors?
The PLCS Standard defines the neutral data format required to facilitate bi-directional information exchange between software applications. The PLCS single integrated information model addresses all of the major data flows and/or transactions required to support a comprehensive product support process model. A Data EXchange set (DEX) is a subset of the PLCS integrated information model that address a specific business need for data exchange.
By mapping the data import/export capability of existing software applications to the PLCS Schema it is possible to define the information exchange requirements in the form of a STEP-based neutral /open format, for example a Part 21 text file (ISO 10303-21) or Part 28 XML file (ISO 10303-28).
These file formats can be readily exchanged between PLCS compliant software applications, without the need for costly and time-consuming development of proprietary interfaces.
Information sharing occurs in a similar fashion, using the STEP architecture of the Standard Data Access Interface (SDAI) (ISO 10303-22). The SDAI enables software applications to have dynamic access to a repository of data.
16. What is reference data, how is it used and how can it be customized?
Reference data is standardized computer interpretable data, which can be used to extend or tailor a data model, or to hold agreed descriptions of data to be shared between participants.
Within the PLCS standard (AP 239), reference data is used mainly to define standard "types" or "classes" of things, such as classes of documents, types of task, fault codes etc.
Reference data may be standardized at any level (e.g. project, company, inter-company, trade group, national, international) and at any time, before, during or after the development of a given AP. Many current standards could be viewed as potential sources of reference data.
PLCS will use reference data to tailor and extend the AP 239 information model in a controlled manner. This enables:
Rapid adoption of the standard within a specific domain by using locally accepted reference data and
Progressive extension of standardized exchange capability through the further standardization of reference data over time and, where justified, without changing the core data model.
Reference data also provides a means for recording common descriptions for any types or classes (e.g. agreed categories of a product, agreed fault codes).
PLCS has based its approach to reference data on that adopted by ISO 15926 (Integration of life-cycle data for process plants including oil and gas production facilities). Further information can be found at http://www.posccaesar.com/ISO15926/iso15926.htm
17. Is there any reference data available at no cost?
PLCS will provide an initial, exemplar set of reference data with AP 239 and some DEXs may include an initial set of reference data. Most organizations that use PLCS will already have current standards that can be used as potential sources of reference data by AP 239.
18. What parts are there to the PLCS standard and can I implement them separately?
The PLCS Standard is based on a single integrated information model that addresses the complete product support domain and covers the following four major areas:
Support Engineering - Provide and sustain the support infrastructure
Resource Management - Plan and record resource utilization against task
Configuration Management - Manage change throughout the product lifecycle, with the provision for tracking product configuration information
Maintenance and Feedback - Maintain, test, diagnose, calibrate, repair and modify physical product, including schedules, resources and feedback
The single integrated information model was developed using a modular architecture, which enabled groups of data modules (building bricks) to be combined to meet the specific functionality requirements of users.
In developing the standard, PLCS, Inc. tried to anticipate the most likely requirements. Functionality to meet these anticipated requirements was presented within the single integrated information model. Data Exchange Sets (DEX's) - which are subsets of the integrated PLCS data model based on unique combinations of data modules that satisfy a business need - are currently being developed by the OASIS TC. DEXs may be implemented as stand-alone entities to facilitate STEP compliant data exchanges.
Software vendors can provide functionality that is compliant with one or more of the DEXs. Users of the PLCS standard can implement one or more of the DEXs to meet their business requirement(s). A full description of the functionality supported by DEXs will be made available on the OASIS web site, as each of the the DEX models are completed.