Open Process Automation Forum holds first meeting

Dec. 19, 2016
Fast-growing organization is outgrowth of recent ExxonMobil efforts to build industry consensus for less proprietary process automation systems.

Process automation industry stakeholders gathered in San Francisco, November 16-17, 2016 for the first meeting of the Open Process Automation Forum, an organization formed to further the development of a “standards-based, open, secure, interoperable process control architecture.”

Facilitated by The Open Group, a vendor-neutral IT standards development organization, the Forum is an outgrowth of recent ExxonMobil efforts to build industry consensus behind a new generation of process automation systems that is less proprietary and therefore easier to maintain, upgrade and migrate—as well as enhance with new capabilities.

The Forum’s first meeting drew 57 representatives from 30 of the Forum’s 41 member

Forum Co-chair Don Bartusiak of ExxonMobil

organizations at the time, which by December 15th had already swelled to nearly 100. Member organizations include an array of end users, “traditional” process automation system suppliers as well as an intriguing mix of complementary IT and communications technology providers.

During this first members meeting, a few things quickly became very clear, organizers said in a follow-up blog post:

  1. There are common pain points spanning multiple sectors, such as aging control systems and the need for more rapid technology insertion, which the proposed standards effort can address to the benefit of customers;
  2. There are common pain points shared by suppliers in current business models;
  3. The supplier community is eager to work collaboratively on an open standard for process control; and,
  4. The participants had a common understanding that a “win-win” outcome providing benefits to end users and suppliers is essential, and the members of the Forum are keen to deliver on this.

During the meeting members also discussed the scope of this new standards effort, defined the Forum’s organizational structure, and named interim leaders for the Forum: co-chairs are Don Bartusiak of ExxonMobil and Trevor Cusworth of Schneider Electric. Working groups around Business, Enterprise Architecture, and Technical issues were also formed. In addition, the Forum is working on a standards landscape document, which will survey other standards for possible incorporation into the “standard of standards” that the Forum expects to create. Outreach and engagement with other standards organizations is currently being discussed and planned.

Launch events are being planned to coincide with The Open Group San Francisco meeting, January 30 through February 2, 2017, and the ARC Industry Forum meeting in Orlando, February 6-9, 2017. Organizers encourage stakeholders who want to help influence the direction of the standards development work to become members and get directly involved.

More information on the Open Process Automation Forum: