News from ExxonMobil about Open Process Automation

Author photo: Harry Forbes
ByHarry Forbes
Technology Trends

Open Process Automation Forum and Proof of Concept

The Open Process Automation Forum continues its work to develop “a standards-based, open, secure, interoperable process control architecture”. Simultaneously, Lockheed Martin is conducting its Proof of Concept (PoC) work under its existing contract from ExxonMobil. There has been some confusion among both equipment suppliers and end users about the relationship between these activities and about what will follow. With some help from ExxonMobil’s Paul Berlowitz, I’ll try to clarify this.

At the 2017 ARC Orlando Forum, ExxonMobil presented its initiative as consisting of “Three Tracks” (see figure).

 exxonmobile Open Process Automation Vision

The first track, the PoC prototype program, is managed by Lockheed Martin under contract from ExxonMobil. The second is the standards development, being managed by The Open Group.  The third and final track is the building of a commercial system “instances”.  This will mean delivering standardized products to actual field applications. ExxonMobil hopes that this phase will engage additional end users, system integrators, and suppliers.

The point of confusion concerns sharing the results of the PoC track.  The PoC is scheduled for delivery in 4Q2017. Presumably there will be additional learnings from the testing of the PoC after delivery.  ExxonMobil has assumed all costs for developing the PoC. So what will the company share from the PoC and with whom?  To answer this, I’ll quote directly my correspondence with ExxonMobil (emphasis is mine):

Open Process Automation, ExxonMobil and Lockheed Martin

ExxonMobil Research and Engineering (EMRE) has contracted Lockheed Martin (LM) as a system integrator to construct a prototype Open Process Automation (OPA) system utilizing hardware and software chosen from responses to our December 2016 request for proposals (RFPs).  This Proof of Concept (POC) activity is expected to be completed in 4Q2017.

As the standards for OPA will not have been identified by the OPA Forum in this timeframe, EMRE and LM will pre-select from current standards for the POC.  EMRE’s expectation is to provide results from the POC activity to participants in the OPA Forum in a timely fashion, including the performance of its pre-selected standards and key findings resulting from the prototype OPA system.  EMRE expects that these OPA Forum member disclosures will facilitate the efforts of the OPA Forum as well as provide individual OPA Forum members access to early results that will aid in their specific OPA efforts.

Further inquiries should be directed to Paul Berlowitz (

I’ll follow up with further posts on this topic if and when more questions arise.  For more info, please contact us.

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