A Look Back: One Year of the iiRDS Consortium

Text: Judith Hallwachs

The field of technical communication is preparing for the future of intelligent information delivery. Right in the center: the iiRDS Consortium. As of about a year now, the Consortium has taken over the development of the tekom iiRDS standard. It’s time for a first review.


Lesedauer: 05:29 Minuten

The tekom "Information 4.0" Working Group was founded in 2016 with the aim of fundamentally changing the delivery of information in the future. After two years, the outcome of this work was the delivery standard for intelligent information: iiRDS, short for intelligent information Request and Delivery Standard. The iiRDS Consortium was founded in January 2018 to further develop the standard within a greater structure and to be able to fully use its potential. Almost all the companies that have been part of the Information 4.0 Working Group since the very beginning joined the Consortium as founding members. Several new companies have joined the Consortium as well, so that the Consortium now counts 32 national and international members. They are continuously working on the further development of the standard.

The Consortium offers different types of memberships so that each company can contribute and participate according to its options and capacities. The Consortium is integrated into tekom, which also exercises the management function. A steering committee elected by the Consortium is in close contact with the representatives of tekom in order to address and coordinate management issues and the roadmap: In which direction should the standard be developed? Which work packages are necessary?

In 2018, the Consortium set up three working groups and three taskforces to work on the defined work packages. All members of the Consortium can participate in these working groups and taskforces. The process of generating ideas is therefore an exciting one, in which a great variety of specialist knowledge converges and is discussed.

In the Long Run

The working groups have several long-term work packages, whereas the taskforces have only one defined short-term task. So far, three working groups have been formed.

1. “Tools – Validation – Content” Working Group: The experts develop various tools and contents that are necessary and helpful for understanding and implementing iiRDS. The work packages are:

  • Creation of sample content
  • Development of a validation tool for the validation of iiRDS packages
  • Development of a reference implementation

2. “Development” Working Group: The maintenance and continuous further development of the specification of the standard are important topics. For example, after the release of version 1.0 in April 2018, a number of bugs were detected for which a bugfix release will be issued. The release is scheduled for the second quarter of this year. The work packages of the "Development" group are as follows:

  • Maintenance, bug tracking and development of the iiRDS package format
  • Maintenance, bug tracking and development of the iiRDS model
  • Development of the "Request" part of iiRDS

3. “Standards” Working Group: The experts of this working group promote the international standardization of iiRDS under the following aspects:

  • Participation in the revision of 82045-2
  • Development of a partial model of the industry 4.0 platform

Furthermore, possible relationships to other standards such as OPC-UA or AutomationML are continuously evaluated. Cooperations with DITA and eCl@ss are currently in negotiation. Another important point is terminology work.

Short-Term Tasks

The three task forces are already about to complete their work. Topics, tasks and goals are:

1. “Creation of a PAS” Taskforce: In order to come closer to the aim of transforming iiRDS into an international standard, the Consortium's taskforce is currently working on what is called a Publicly Available Specification, abbreviated PAS. Thereby, the requirements for the provision of intelligent information are to be standardized.

2. “Coordination with VDI2770” Taskforce: The tekom Working Group has been cooperating with the VDI 2770 committee "Digital manufacturer information of process industry" for almost two years. The aim of this cooperation is to ensure that the two standards are compatible with each other. In order to achieve this goal, the taskforce has developed a document defining a hybrid version of the two standards. This document will be published in the course of the year.

3. “Rules for the iiRDS Consultants Pool” Taskforce: As more and more companies implement iiRDS in the future, the need for consultants who support companies in this extensive process will grow. In order to be able to offer consultants via the iiRDS Consortium who have proven experience with the standard, this taskforce is developing a set of rules. In this way, individuals can be officially certified as iiRDS consultants.

The Standard in the Public Eye

Over the past year, presentations on iiRDS have been heard in many countries, including China, India, Japan, Bulgaria, Italy, France, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Japan, France and, of course, Germany. The iiRDS Café, held for the first time at the tcworld conference, was a particular success, as eleven iiRDS experts from the Consortium highlighted various aspects of the standard at different tables. Visitors to the Café were able to switch tables at any time, talk to other experts, ask questions and discuss the development of iiRDS. The interactive format made it possible to address visitors who had different ranges of prior knowledge. After very positive feedback from participants, the iiRDS Consortium is already looking forward to repeating the iiRDS Café at the tcworld conference in 2019.

And So It Continues

With a well-stocked roadmap, the iiRDS Consortium started the new year with a great deal of motivation: The members of the Consortium are looking forward to the technical discussions, to achieving milestones together, and to the conferences where the standard will continue to attract attention.

Do you want to be part of it as a pioneer in advancing intelligent information for Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things? As a Consortium member, you can actively develop the standard further -- find out more on the Consortium's website. Or visit the tekom blog on intelligent information, specifically the series "Five Questions For..." In addition, you can call up a newsletter via iiRDS, or subscribe to it at iirds.org. The newsletter provides regular updates about further development of the standard.

The Gateway to Intelligent Information

Although companies are already in the digitalization stage, it is still very common for some manufacturers to provide technical documentation on paper. At the same time, the shift from paper to electronic provision should be pushed forward. Two reasons support this idea: First, a paper-based instruction manual can cause involuntary long downtimes for machines. In order to maintain a machine or fix a malfunction, the printed manual is needed -- but often enough, the manual is not in its place. Or the service technician has to search for the service step or error description. If the machine or system also consists of a number of supplier components for which the appropriate documentation is missing, the downtime becomes even longer. Only if the right information is found at some point can the machine actually be maintained. Meanwhile, the company loses money and time: on the one hand, ineffective use of the service technician’s work hours, and on the other, economic loss due to downtime.

And second, providing technical documentation for a machine or system requires a lot of paper. It may well consist of a full palette of manuals. The customer may even receive manuals in other languages that he does not actually need and will dispose of. This requires rethinking, saving paper and improving availability.

Metadata simplifies the targeted provision of information.

Ultimately, customer expectations have changed in recent years. Mobile devices are an integral part of everyday life almost everywhere, and all information and transactions are processed using these as a matter of course. This also applies to the use of technical products and related information. Nonetheless, a uniform standard and technology that are easily accessible are lacking. These reasons led to the founding of the tekom "Information 4.0" Working Group, which resulted in iiRDS. The standard is based on standardized metadata that provides the user with only the information needed in the context of current use -- no more, no less. The standard works across manufacturers and industries: manufacturers can deliver their documentation in a standardized way, no longer forced to adapt it to individual needs. Customers, on the other hand, can easily integrate the technical documentation of their various suppliers. iiRDS is the interface between sender and receiver.

inf. 01  source Judith Hallwachs

A Look Back: One Year of the iiRDS Consortium