PI Asset Framework: A CLPM History Lesson

When does History matter? Well, in 2017 OSIsoft introduced Control Station as a valued member of the Partner EcoSphere. At the time Control Station’s PlantESP was the first control loop performance monitoring (CLPM) solution to integrate seamlessly with the PI System using the PI SDK. Shortly thereafter PlantESP leveraged templates from the PI Asset Framework (PI AF) to further automate the identification and configuration of a production facility’s numerous PID control loops. Ever since then Control Station has been deploying PlantESP at production facilities across the process industries and around the world. That’s allowed us to learn a few things about PI. For process manufacturers who entrust their critical process data to a third-party vendor like Control Station, that’s History that matters.

For those who are unfamiliar with OSIsoft and its market-leading PI Historian, its PI AF component enables an organization to define a consistent representation of its assets and provides structure for the associated information. Think of PI AF as a single container for asset-centric models, hierarchies, objects, equipment (i.e., elements), and properties (i.e., attributes). PI AF can support a nearly unlimited number of elements, and each element can support numerous attributes and sub-elements. In that manner, PI AF allows users to construct elements in whatever way best suits their needs. In spite of its impressive attributes and market success, however, integration with PI AF can present challenges.

Following is some History along with a few insights related to PI AF integration that Control Station has learned through years of working closely with OSIsoft and PI:

  • Configuration Firsts

Originally, integration of PlantESP with the PI Server was performed using configuration data recorded in thirty-eight (38) columns of a Microsoft Excel workbook. The workbook provided a structure for capturing all of the information needed by PlantESP and for specifying each of a production facility’s numerous PID control loops. That information ranged from loop description and tag location to loop type and PID controller configuration (e.g., P-Only, PI, PID). Other important details included loop and unit assignments that PlantESP used for understanding the hierarchy of a system. This basic approach became obsolete with the introduction of Asset Framework and the structure, hierarchy, and templates that were included with PI AF. Defining individual PID controllers became much easier.


  • Templatizing Data

Design of a new approach that leveraged Asset Framework began as soon as Control Station’s partnership with OSIsoft was announced in 2017. As users of the PI System know, Asset Framework can be browsed using the PI System Explorer. What may not be known is that a template supplied by Control Station can be imported into Asset Framework (i.e., PlantESP_PID_Controller). The template contains all of the PID controller information needed to configure PlantESP. As intended by the team at OSIsoft, the template utilizes categories and subgroups, and in doing so it supports the many ways that manufacturers choose to organize their information.


The image above showcases the PI AF Template for use with PlantESP (1), the list of information originally captured in an Excel workbook (2), and how PI AF allows information to be organized either within categories or subgroups (3).


  • Signature Please

A PlantESP signature file can be used with existing PI AF templates. If a PI user has an established Asset Framework structure, then they can simply edit the existing template and add any new attributes that may be needed by PlantESP. The signature file maps the Asset Framework template to the corresponding PlantESP fields. Doing so eliminates the need to rearchitect the existing Asset Framework structure. The signature file simplifies the process of matching PlantESP’s data needs with the data sources within PI. Even before our partnership with OSIsoft was formalized, Control Station has made good use of the PlantESP signature file to make integration quick and easy.

Control Station has extensive experience with the PI Server and with Asset Framework. Innovations made by OSIsoft over the years have simplified the integration process and have facilitated more efficient use of a manufacturer’s process data. At Control Station we’re fortunate to partner with OSIsoft, and we’ve benefited from the collaboration between our development teams. That collaboration is a direct benefit to licensees of both PI and PlantESP. History that matters.

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