Build Bridges from PI to Companion Enterprise Systems

Blog Post created by sedwards on Apr 30, 2019

PI users working with assets usually need data outside the PI system to complete investigations and make decisions. Enterprise engineering drawings and maintenance records for assets are typical needs. Yes, you can copy any data into PI but to have it all is impractical in most cases. For some it is better to join than replicate. One answer is to teach your systems to operate like one system. Here is a technique you can use in a PI System that I find super powerful and pervasive.


We want a PI user looking at an operations asset to always have at their fingertips a link to view the current asset in the enterprise asset maintenance system or the enterprise engineering document system. This promotes jumping readily to companion User Interfaces (UI's) with asset context to work faster and see more of the whole story. The idea is to use each of these systems as they come out of the box. Nothing custom, just bridge between the User Interfaces of each system carrying asset context as you go. The critical feature is to automate and centralize the creation of these URL links so that they are refreshed and generated at runtime. Avoid static links as they inevitably break.


PI systems have a powerful context-sensitive URL builder designed for you to enable UI bridges. Automate, centralize and scale the feature quickly with PI Systems URI Builder data reference. Lets walk through it.

Identify the base URL and its parameters for the companion system you want to reach. For example, lets take Enterprise Asset Mgmt software from IBM-MAXIMO. Here is its typical URL to view an asset in the MAXIMO web client UI.


Note the assetnum=13563. This is what we will need to automate per asset. The rest of the URL is constant for all assets in the site. Let's look at what this looks like when implemented at scale in a PI System.


  1. Implement a top level parent asset template that will apply to all assets in your asset model. This will cover big boy assets like pressure vessels but also all the way down to instruments. Look at the asset hierarchy in your Enterprise Maintenance and Engineering systems and align your PI asset templates to match. In your top level parent template you add attributes like criticality, site serial num, lat/lon, name etc. These are the attributes you require all assets to have and to be recorded very consistently. Under this parent template in PI you derive layers of child templates for your asset classes (pumps, valves etc). Regardless of who they are, as children of the same parent they will all have a site serial num and this is what you look to use to centralize your UI bridges from PI.
  2. Assign site serial numbers in bulk to all assets in PI. This is often done by importing and linking a table in PI from your enterprise systems that contains asset names and their corresponding site serial numbers. Typically we recommend unique element names in PI AF that end in asset name. Asset name can then be parsed from the element name into an attribute . Site serial number is then generated in an attribute by looking up the serial num from the asset name in the imported table. **For some of you, your asset names themselves serve as your unique identifiers of assets and this step can be avoided. In such case the asset name is used in your URL build. (Coming up later)
  3. Implement a URI Builder attribute in your top level parent template for every enterprise UI bridge you need. Use the URI builder data reference and its wizard like config tool. The goal is to teach PI to generate the URL dynamically by concatenating the base url with the asset specific serial number. The wizard breaks your sample URL into its parameterized pieces and give you the option to substitute live values from PI attributes into the URL. As highlighted below we use the 'ID' attribute to feed the assetnuum parameter in the URL that takes me to IBM-Maximo with asset context.



UI Bridge to all Assets. With the UI bridge link defined in PI AF as an attribute it can be clicked on by users in PI client tools to make the . If your base URL changes you have only one central template location to edit.



How do UI Bridges help you solve more problems faster?

  • Open fresh eyes to data that was otherwise hidden.  Operations teams often need to know design and repair information about their assets.  See below the types of information a typical information available in surrounding maintenance and engineering data structures.
  • Save time and money compared other methods of connecting maintenance and engineering systems
  • Improve the quality of your asset data in all systems from increased exposure


Examples of valuable Maintenance & Reliability information for operations:

  1. Show me when we last worked on this asset.
  2. How much does a repair cost on this asset
  3. What parts do we have in stock for this asset
  4. Which mechanic does most of the rebuilds for this asset.
  5. Do we have a video or photo of this asset recently


Examples of valuable Engineering information for operations:

  1. Show me the original performance specifications for this asset.
  2. What should the material of construction be for this part
  3. What are the piping connections and valve specs around this asset
  4. What is the control scheme and instrumentation for this asset
  5. What do the internals of this asset look like
  6. Do we have any photos or videos of this asset when it was installed.


Hope this helps. Let us know how this works for you or if you have any questions.