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Created: July 28, 2004.
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FIATECH AEX Project Publishes XML Schemas for Construction and Buildings Industry.

The Automating Equipment Information Exchange (AEX) Project management has announced the public release of Version 1.0 XML schemas for the exchange of information about capital facilities equipment and operations. The schemas cover both project and technical information, and "are designed to be used to support multi-party collaboration work processes for the entire life cycle, including design, procurement, delivery, installation, operations and maintenance of facility equipment."

FIATECH is a non-profit consortium "focused on fast-track development and deployment of technologies to substantially improve how capital projects and facilities are designed, engineered, built and maintained." The AEX Project was chartered to "provide the technology needed to enable both internal and external automated information exchanges among the multiple software systems and collaborating companies associated with design, procurement, fabrication, delivery, installation, operation and maintenance of engineered equipment items."

The AEX Version 1.0 public release includes a user guide that summarizes the business drivers and provides an overview of the schema architecture; it supplies descriptions of the XML schemas and includes a tutorial for getting started with software implementations. The ZIP archive with 67 files provides a complete set of schema definitions, example files, and documentation for Public Release 1.0 of the AEX project, complete with a large mp3 narration file for the Schema Architecture presentation.

Production of the AEX Version 1.0 schemas represents a joint industry effort involving over twenty-five organizations. Key technology contributions were made by the AIChE Design Institute for Physical Properties (DIPPR) 991 Project, ePlantData, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). FIATECH, DIPPR, and ePlantData initiated this open industry cooperative under an umbrella name of Capital Facilities Industry XML (cfiXML). The collaborative goal was to "achieve a pragmatic industry consensus around the use of XML technology to achieve the noted economic benefits for capital facilities equipment and material properties." The XML schemas are governed by open source licenses and are freely available for anyone to use.

AEX Version 1.0 XML schemas have been developed with an object-oriented schema framework to support equipment item data, process material data that appear on equipment datasheets, procurement data and relevant project data. The initial subject focus of this work is: "(1) Basic equipment information found on various equipment lists and bill of materials documents; (2) Equipment datasheets for centrifugal pumps and shell and tube exchangers, which include process material properties; (3) Process materials associated properties, calculation methods and experimental property data; (4) Equipment documents used over the life cycle of capital facilities. While the Version 1.0 scope is initially limited to these types of information, the team has approached the schema design with the requirement that the base schema structures be capable of handling any equipment item, any engineering document, any material property relevant to capital facilities and extensions by users."

Phase 2 of the AEX project is now underway and work includes "improving the AEX Phase 1 schemas, developing trial implementations of the AEX Phase 1 schemas, and working with NIST on establishing the AEX testbed. The team is also assessing mechanisms for aligning or linking the AEX schemas with other domain models and namespaces, and is conducting trial uses of evolving eBusiness protocols, e.g., OAGI BODs and UBL, and extending the Phase 1 schemas to support information for additional types of equipment and building systems models. The additional equipment types include: induction motors, air coolers, reciprocating compressors, pressure vessels, centrifugal fan, centrifugal compressors, control valves, storage tanks, relief valves and transmitters."

From the FIATECH Announcement

The FIATECH AEX (Automating Equipment Information Exchange) Project released Version 1.0 of its XML schemas for capital facilities equipment and associated documentation today. The XML schemas and documentation are available for anyone to use at no charge from the FIATECH web site.

This effort is the result of a joint industry effort involving over 25 organizations, including:

  • Sponsor organizations: Bechtel, Citadon, DuPont Engineering, ePlantData, Impress, Intergraph, National Institute of Standards and Technology, S&B Engineering, and the Smithsonian Institution

  • Participating companies: Applied Flow Technology, Autodesk, AVEVA, Bentley, BigMachines, Burns & Roe, Chempump, Flowserve, Goulds, Jacobs Engineering, Intelliquip and Sundyne

  • Collaborating industry groups: American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), American Petroleum Institute (API), Design Institute for Physical Properties (DIPPR), Hydraulic Institute, Process Industry Practices (PIP) and PlantSTEP.

Extensible Markup Language (XML) is an Internet standard published by the World Wide Web Consortium ( that enables information to be intelligently exchanged among software systems. FIATECH launched the AEX Project in May 2002 with the goal of achieving practical industry software interoperability for facilities equipment information. The economic benefits to the capital facilities industry of achieving practical, widespread software interoperability are conservatively estimated by FIATECH and others to be worth many millions of dollars annually.

The XML schemas for facilities equipment, which include both project and technical information, are designed to be used to support multi-party collaboration work processes for the entire life cycle, including design, procurement, delivery, installation, operations and maintenance of facility equipment.

The published XML schemas for facilities equipment include the following:

  • Extensive core schema architecture to support engineering and technical information, including change tracking, units of measure, objects, context (people, organizations, locations), projects, documents, and more.

  • Basic equipment information to support over 300 equipment types that may be used for equipment lists

  • Detailed equipment information for centrifugal pumps and shell and tube heat exchangers that may be used for equipment datasheets based on industry standards such as those available from PIP and API

  • Material properties for both construction materials and process fluids, supporting over 280 properties

"This public release completes a major milestone for the AEX project. After extensive industry quality reviews and testing, the schemas are sufficiently mature and robust for developers to begin commercial software implementations of XML data exchange interfaces," says Tom Teague, AEX project technical lead, President of ePlantData, Inc. "AEX Project participants are working together now to build the initial software implementations using the Release 1.0 XML schemas. The AEX project will use these software implementations to demonstrate multi-system data exchange and continue to extend the schemas to support detailed information for additional equipment types, for example, compressors, fans, tanks and valves.

DuPont is involved with FIATECH and the AEX Project in particular because we believe it is time to move beyond talking about problems and take action," explains James B. Porter, Jr., Vice President, DuPont Engineering and Operations. "The AEX Project, with the release of these schemas, has responded to an industry-wide challenge regarding standards and interoperability, providing the means whereby owners like DuPont can work with contractors and technology developers to 'find a problem and fix it.' We are extremely pleased with the results of this work. We particularly applaud the agreement among the software developers on the team to implement the schemas in their products. We will continue to work with the AEX team to ensure successful implementation."

"With the public release of these schemas, we have delivered on our promise to help accelerate the integration and automation of the Construction and Buildings industry," says Ric Jackson, Director, FIATECH. "The AEX project team identified a problem in information interchange that was critically important to the project participants, and worked with other industry and standards organizations to coordinate an industry-wide approach to solving it. These schemas and the guidelines that the AEX Team produced are a major step in accelerating the full integration of software tools in the Construction and Buildings industry. Our plan now is to build on this success and continue to drive toward a full solution which this industry so desperately needs."

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