Supply chains in the downstream sector are tightly networked, as transhipment hubs and their partners exchange enormous amounts of data every day. If the companies use different data formats, these processes become extremely complex. The IFLEXX Community, a group of leading companies from the German petroleum industry, has actively supported standardized data communication for many years. This week, the group met for its 13th meeting – this time at BP in Bochum.
After the welcome greeting, the organizers presented the latest developments from PIDX, the international counterpart of IFLEXX. Its recently introduced Planned Movements is a new standard format for transmitting order data from an ERP system to a terminal management system. It allows tank terminal operators to view all the relevant data on a planned load even before it is collected.
Converting oil and gas quantities
The IFLEXX members then discussed on-truck computer integration, data exchange portals, IT security and quantity conversion. Since the density and volume of petroleum products vary with temperature, all quantities are converted to an agreed reference temperature, which in Europe is 15 degrees Celsius. This ensures that companies within the supply chain mean the same thing when referring to a particular quantity. The IFLEXX standard therefore makes provision for the data records to employ different units of quantity at the same time. The system converts the quantities at the loading terminal. During the IFLEXX meeting, members discussed how the OpenTAS QCM converter can be used to validate the quantities.
In the afternoon, project managers explained how they had partnered with Implico to set up a standardized data exchange system with over 40 loading locations. Tank terminals and refineries in seven countries now transfer all their loading data to iGOS, a cloud service specializing in the oil and gas industry, where the data is checked, harmonized and sent in standardized PIDX format to the company’s SAP system.
The participants concluded the 13th IFLEXX meeting with a final round of discussions, which included a number of ideas and suggestions. "This year’s IFLEXX meeting was very informative. We saw once again that standardized data communication is an important concern for all members," says Kay-Peter Buhtz, CEO of Implico. "We are particularly pleased that we were able to welcome a new member into our ranks this year. It is good to see that the IFLEXX Community is growing and that the jointly developed XML format has developed into a key standard for data communication in the oil and gas industry."
About IFLEXX (International FiLe EXchange XML)
IFLEXX is a non-proprietary, open and free-of-charge standard for data exchange in the petroleum industry. The IFLEXX Community now numbers 17 member companies. IFLEXX is the successor to MPKS (“Mineral oil Partner Communications System”), introduced over 30 years ago. Data exchange using IFLEXX offers the petroleum industry many advantages. Not only does XML permit the transfer of large volumes of standardized data, but IFLEXX also enables the bi-directional exchange of loading data: both to the tank truck’s onboard computer and to the petroleum company’s accounting system.
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