The DEXPI Initiative (Data EXchange in the Process Industry) is a working party of ProcessNet, which is a joint initiative of DECHEMA and VDI-GVC:

“ProcessNet is the German platform for chemical engineering with more than 5,000 members. Experts from the sciences, industry and administration exchange ideas and experience, discuss current topics and identify new scientific trends. ProcessNet is a joint initiative of DECHEMA and VDI-GVC.

ProcessNet organises numerous events targeting the interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral exchange of information. The most prominent conference is the ProcessNet Annual Meeting attracting more than 1,000 participants. The wide variety of thematically structured committees deal with scientific and technical problems and issues of paramount technological and societal relevance, they also trigger funding policy initiatives. ProcessNet is the national contact point for international co-operations. Participation in ProcessNet is open to all members of DECHEMA and/or VDI-GVC.”


The DEXPI Initiative is hosted by DECHEMA e.V. and SusChem Deutschland.

Motivation for DEXPI

Due to the lack of interoperability between CAE 1 (and other) systems, companies today face high efforts in data exchange while working together to execute projects for planning, construction and operation of process plants. Parties typically exchanging data in such projects are e.g. EP/EPCs 2, owner-operators, and vendors, but also site services and authorities. One of the main reasons for this high effort is the lack of an agreed understanding across the different systems, e.g. by means of a commonly used standard for data exchange in the process industry. To become more efficient during planning, construction and operation of plants, a data exchange model based on the ISO 15926 standard shall be established.


The objective is to develop and promote a general method for data exchange, data interoperability and data integration for the process industry covering all phases of the lifecycle of a (petro-)chemical plant, ranging from specification of functional requirements to assets in operation. This method shall cover formats and content to address various problems seen today:

  • Avoid format conversions (and thereby data loss) when passing engineering data and documents across CAE system boundaries.

  • Make handover of engineering data during and at the end of a project easy and cost-effective.

  • Reduce data exchange barriers between different CAE systems or different customizations of the same CAE systems.

  • Support long-term storage of plant data in a CAE system independent format. Today’s commonly used standard formats like PDF don’t support value added improvements or at best insufficiently.

  • Simplify co-existence of different CAE systems within a company, e.g. due to mergers/acquisitions or different priorities in different business units.


EP/EPCs, suppliers and owner operators want to minimize the cost for handling engineering data during planning, construction and operation of process plants between different CAE systems and they want to create opportunities for new value-added functions base on the available engineering data. Therefore the CAE vendors will implement a valid global standard for data exchange into their CAE systems. In a first phase, data exchange will cover graphics, topology of the full P&ID 3 and attributes of the discrete P&ID components.

The involved owner/operator companies from the DEXPI Initiative will define a common data model which is based on the ISO 15926 standard. The resulting data model will be aligned with other projects in the global ISO 15926 community. The CAE vendors will implement this common data model as the basis for data exchange and will deliver it as part of their default system configuration. In addition, it is expected that CAE vendors agree on a common exchange format for the graphical representation of a P&ID and implement the result in their systems as well. The involved companies expect a constructive team work of the CAE vendors during the definition of the common ISO 15926 conformant data model.

Objective of the first phase of the initiative is the transfer of a P&ID from one P&ID system to another P&ID system. The data transfer must include graphics, symbols, topology, all engineering attributes, enumerations, select lists etc. to enable seamless continuation of work on the P&ID in the destination system. Transfer of engineering data over the full life cycle of a plant between different CAE tools, e.g. from simulation to basic/detail engineering up to operations and maintenance may be covered in subsequent phases.


CAE: Computer Aided Engineering


EPC: Engineering-Procurement-Construction


P&ID: Piping and Instrumentation Diagram