Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Simple Naming Convention for Data Points, Assets and Equipment

Over the last 20 years I have been involved with the implementation of several CMMS and SCADA systems, as well as many data management systems like our own FieldDataPro solution.

Without fail, one hurdle that shows up early in every project is what should we can the assets, in the case of a CMMS, and what do we call the data points that describe these assets in the SCADA or data management system.

Any naming convention should have the following goals:

  • The names should be intuitive. A user should be able to look at one asset or data point name and be able to tell what it is describing. The user should also be able to look at an asset name and guess what the name of a similar asset is.
  • The name should include hierarchical references to locate where the asset or data point is in the system.
  • The name must be distinct. 

There are several standardized naming conventions in use today in industry, but none of them met our requirements, so the FDP Naming Convention was created.

The FDP Naming convention creates names by concatenating abbreviations the following parts:

Location (Either site or building, whichever is appropriate)
System (Everything is a part of a system)
Equipment (if necessary)
Parameter (for data point naming)
Parameter Descriptor (if needed to help identify the Parameter)

The parts of the name are separated by either underscores(dashes or periods may also be used).

For example, on our North Campus we have a chilled water system. This system has several chillers. If we wanted to create an asset name for the first chiller on the system, it would be:


The chilled water inlet temperature for this chiller would be:


The chilled water Outlet temperature for this chiller would be:


Many data points describe the system as a whole as opposed to individual assets that are part of the system. In these cases we leave out the Equipment portion of the name. Following our example above, the name for the pH of the chilled water in this system would be:


Some data points describe properties of the site as a whole. In these cases we would leave out the System portion of the name. Following our example above, the name for the outside air dewpoint for the entire campus would be:


Adopting this naming convention, or a similar convention, makes using your CMMS, SCADA or data management system easier for the end user. It is easier to search for data. It is also easier to identify which data is being represented in a trend, which asset is being referred to on a work order.

Including the hierarchical information in the name also makes it easier to relate different assets together, and to relate data points to assets to systems to locations.

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