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Created: August 07, 2003.
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OASIS Members Form Product Life Cycle Support Technical Committee.

Representatives from five OASIS member companies have formed a new Product Life Cycle Support Technical Committee relating to owners/operators of complex products and systems such as aircraft, ships and power plants. The purpose of the PLCS TC is to "establish structured data exchange and sharing capabilities for use by industry to support complex engineered assets throughout their total life cycle. These Data Exchange Sets (DEXs) are based upon ISO 10303 (STEP) Application Protocol 239 (Product Life Cycle Support). The TC proposers have identified more than thirty (30) candidate DEX specifications to meet particular industry needs, and will begin work initially on ten (10): Product Breakdown for Support, Functional Structure and Related Faults, Tasks Linked to Product, Work Schedule, Maintenance Plan, Product as Realized, Task Set, Support Drivers, Failure Feedback, Extended Task Set). The PLCS TC will be responsible for defining, developing, testing and publishing of DEXs, and for liaison with ISO TC 184/SC4. Participants will coordinate these activities with relevant OASIS Technical Committees and promote the use of DEX's across industries and governments world-wide." The TC co-chairs are Howard Mason (BAE Systems) and Jerry Smith (US Defense Information Systems). The first meeting of the PLCS TC will be held September 26, 2003 at the Lockheed Martin Facility in Manassas, Virginia, USA.

Background: Initial Product Life Cycle Support (PLCS) Work at PLCS Inc.

The new OASIS activity continues work begun in the Product Life Cycle Support (PLCS) initiative. Whereas the ISO STEP technical activity is a broad and complex standards effort, the PLCS activity focusing upon application protocols and data model subsets (DEXs) represents a goal of making the relevant parts of ISO 10303 STEP useful in the ERP and PDM areas. PLCS provides the high-level data model, together with business rules and usage guidelines. The OASIS TC will also be developing reference data consisting of canonical lists (enumerated data types) that can be directly incorporated into applications. A summary of the earlier PLCS activity follows, excerpted from the descriptions at the PLCS Inc. website.

The Product Life Cycle Support (PLCS) Initiative described at PLCSINC.ORG is "a joint industry and government project to accelerate the development of a new international standard for exchange of assured product and support information." Sponsors as of 2003-08 included Aerosystems International Ltd, The Boeing Company, DNV, EDS PLM Solutions, BAE SYSTEMS, Finnish Defence Forces (FDF), Industrial and Financial Systems (IFS), Lockheed Martin Government Electronic Systems, LSC Group Ltd, Norwegian Defence, Pennant Information Services Ltd, PTC, Rolls-Royce (plc), Saab Technologies / FMV / Alvis Hägglunds, UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), and United States Department of Defense (DoD).

The Product Life Cycle Support (PLCS) initiative is being undertaken within the framework of the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) and aims to produce a full international standard by 2004. PLCS is supported by both industry and national governments with the aim of accelerating the development of a new international standard for the exchange of product support information. The standard will be the mechanism to ensure product and support information is aligned with the evolving product definition over the entire lifecycle, from design to disposal.

The standard will be an extension to the existing proven exchange capability of the Standard for Exchange of Product Data, also known as ISO 10303 (STEP). The PLCS Standard will be published as an Application Protocol to the STEP standard and will be known as ISO 10303, AP 239. The PLCS Standard (AP 239) will enable the exchange, sharing and archiving of support data. The compatibility with STEP will enhance the utility of PLCS in enterprises where STEP already supports design, analysis and manufacturing, e.g., automotive and aerospace industries. AP239 will also provide extension to the capabilities of AP203 (Configuration Controlled Design) and AP214 (Automotive Design Process) and hence the PDM Schema/Modules, to address the requirements for Configuration Management over the full product life.

The following capabilities are enabled by the proposed standard:

  • Activity Management: Capability to request, define, justify, approve, schedule and capture feedback on activities (work) and related resources
  • Product Definition: Capability to define product requirements and their configuration, including relationships between parts and assemblies in multiple product structures (as-designed, as-built, as-maintained)
  • Operational Feedback: Capability that describes and captures feedback on product properties, operating states, behaviour and usage
  • Support Solution and Environment: Capability to 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.

Application Protocol 239 (PLCS) is being 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: (1) Complex high value products; (2) Many unique parts and product configurations; (3) Long service life; (4) Demanding in-service support requirements; (5) In-service support costs that encompass a significant portion of the total cost of ownership. The following industry groups could equally 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
  • Power Generation
  • Oil and Gas Process Plant" [adapted from the Overview and FAQ

About PLCS Data Exchange Sets

"For the purposes of developing the PLCS standard, a modular architecture has been used to construct a single integrated information model. This model has been developed in the EXPRESS language and will be published in XML (Extensible Markup Language) format. 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 of one or more data modules. DEXs support a specific business process or purpose and can be related to existing information. PLCS, Inc. members have used their knowledge and 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 differs from conformance classes (as defined in many of the STEP Application Protocols) in the following ways: (1) DEXs are defined to support specific business processes; (2) DEXs are defined in a separate document from the PLCS Life Cycle Core AP; (3) DEXs may have additional constraints; (4) DEXs (as part of the PLCS) may specify the use of specific reference data.

The development of DEXs is an ongoing task. As of July 2003, thirty-three 33 DEXs had been identified, covering the following topics: Requirements (1); Product Design and Behaviour (9); Work (10); Support Environment (8); Support System (5). Each DEX is supported by a description that defines its scope and relationship to the individual modules required to provide the desired exchange capability. It is intended that usage guides will be produced for each DEX to ensure consistency in implementation and business application. [adapted from Q21-22 of the PLCS FAQ]

From the OASIS PLCS TC Announcement

The scope of the information content of STEP Application Protocol 239 covers:

  • The identification and composition of a product design from a support viewpoint
  • The definition of documents and their applicability to products and support activities
  • The identification and composition of individual products
  • Configuration management activities, over the complete life cycle
  • Activities required to sustain product function
  • The resources needed to perform such activities
  • The planning and scheduling of such activities
  • The capture of feedback on the performance of such activities, including the resources used
  • The capture of feedback on the usage and condition of a product
  • The definition of the support environment in terms of people, organizations, skills, experience and facilities

This content relates to many of the transactions required to order, supply and pay for the necessary resources and activities required to operate and maintain the products. Individual DEX development teams will be encouraged to liaise with relevant OASIS TCs to ensure that consistent data definitions are generated.

The business goal of the PLCS TC is to satisfy three significant requirements for owners/operators of complex products and systems such as aircraft, ships and power plants, namely:

  • Reduction in the total cost of ownership
  • Increased asset availability
  • Effective information management throughout the product lifecycle

PLCS, Inc., a Delaware Corporation, has been the developer of the ISO 10303 Application Protocol 239 and has begun the development of several PLCS Data Exchange Sets. The members of PLCS, Inc. plan to close the corporate entity after October 31, 2003 and in accordance with their membership agreement intend to place all remaining intellectual property in the public domain. It is the intent of the proposers to continue the work of PLCS, Inc. on DEX development and DEX standardization in the OASIS PLCS TC, and we intend to make the appropriate contributions of existing work in accordance with the OASIS TC Process and IPR Policy.

The proposers have identified more than 30 candidate DEX specifications to meet particular industry needs. The current prioritisation for the development of those DEXs lead to the following proposed list of deliverables for the OASIS PLCS TC.

Initial DEX Specifications

D001: Product Breakdown for Support            1st Quarter 2004
D002: Functional Structure and Related Faults  1st Quarter 2004
D003: Tasks Linked to Product                  1st Quarter 2004
D004: Work Schedule                            1st Quarter 2004
D005: Maintenance Plan                         2nd Quarter 2004
D006: Product as Realized                      2nd Quarter 2004
D007: Task Set                                 3rd Quarter 2004
D008: Support Drivers                          3rd Quarter 2004
D009: Failure Feedback                         4th Quarter 2004
D010: Extended Task Set                        4th Quarter 2004

Principal references:

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