Information Modelling Framework (IMF)

Information Modelling Framework (IMF) for Facility Assets

The Information Modelling Framework (IMF) is a language, a method and, a framework, that allows creating a formal description of a Facility Asset. A Facility Asset is an industrial system that have an overall purpose, e.g., a cooling system, with the overall purpose cooling, consists of a large number of system elements, such as pumps, pipes, heat exchangers, etc. 

IMF includes:

  1. the IMF modelling language, which is a user-friendly language that engineers use to represent their knowledge of industrial systems, the resulting information artifacts are named as IMF models; 
  2. a method as guidance for creating formal description of a facility asset using the IMF modelling language. 
  3. a framework including a set of ontology templates libraries that can be used to translated the IMF models to formal languages such as OWL 2 or SHACL and aligned with industrial standards [1][2].


Traditionally, the information of industrial systems is documented in a large number of documents written in natural languages (with tables, diagrams, etc.). It is time-consuming and error-prone for the users to read these documents, extract their needed information, and check consistency in scenarios such as requirement negotiation, where a system designer and a supplier need to understand and negotiate the requirements of large number of facility assets.

Why not using OWL 2 directly?

OWL 2 is an established formal language widely used for information modelling. However, using OWL 2 directly for information modelling for industrial systems has several drawbacks:

  1. Engineers need a more straight-forward and easy-to-use tool. To model information in OWL 2 requires excessive training of semantic expertise, including ontologies, logics, and ontology engineering. This is a large time investment for the engineers and they are reluctant to do so. Our past project experience tells us engineers need a more user-friendly and simpler tool.
  2. Engineers need more specific guidance for information modelling of facility assets. OWL 2 is designed with well-defined syntax and semantics for general purpose of knowledge engineering, and does not provide specific guidance of information modelling for industrial systems. The vast realm of possible ways of modelling and OWL 2’s expressivity and flexibility becomes a drawback, because engineers need guidance in modelling to efficiently build high-quality information models.

Application Scenario of Digital Requirement

Let us consider an example: a system designer wants to build a system, e.g., a building cooling system consisting of pumps and coolers. They need to purchase system elements for the system from the supplier, e.g., pumps. They would specify the requirements of thousands of pumps in a pile of documents and send to the supplier. The supplier needs to go through the piles of documents and read out the exact requirements, and possibly also talk frequently with the solution provider to align the intended requirements and the nominal capability of the products of the product provider.

This process of requirement negotiation in a traditional way is very time-consuming and error-prone, for multiple reasons: the documents are very extensive; they are written for documenting as much as possible information, but not for specific purposes; the natural languages are intrinsically ambiguous.

With IMF models, the requirement negotiation becomes much easier: The system designer gives the system requirements in IMF models, and the supplier gives the system specification also in IMF models; then an automatic semantic verification happens to check if the system specification satisfies the system requirements; meanwhile, other smart reasoning happens such as compliance to standards, automatic generation of system price, etc. People save a huge amount of time and money thanks to the IMF models!

Short Introduction to the IMF language

This section aims at delivering a short introduction of the basic language elements and intuitions of the IMF language. After reading, the readers will obtain an overview of the IMF language and get links for detailed further reading for corresponding sections.

System Thinking

IMF is used to describe Facility Assets, where the Facility Assets typically consist of multiple systems interacting with each other.

Definition: System – A system is a combination of interacting elements organized to achieve one or more stated purpose

System Element – A System Element is a member of a set of elements that constitute a system.


A system can be viewed from different perspectives, which result in different information. he ISO/IEC 81346-1 [2] standard formalizes this concept by introducing a few defined aspects. We illustrate this by the following figure and example:

    • The Function aspect (Yellow) ❶ is about the intended activity, in this example: to pump, providing information about required activity, performance, and function.
    • The Product aspect (Cyan) ❷ is about the specification of a solution that is intended to perform the activity, in this example the specification of a particular type of pump.
    • The Location aspect (Magenta) ❸ is about the spatial envelope – the size and shape – of the specified pump and the requirements imposed by the location (ambient temperature etc.).
    • The Installed aspect (Dark blue) ❹ is about information about the actual pump, with information such as serial number, run hours, and status.

Language Elements

The IMF language consists of three elements (Manual Section 4.2).

Aspect Elements and Aspect Objects

The three elements in four aspects become 10 Aspect Elements and 4 Aspect Objects as depicted below (Manual Section 4.2, 4.4).


The IMF language has 3 intra-aspect and 1 inter-aspect relations (Manual Section 4.3, 4.5-4.7). Note: the “relation” is different from the relation in logic.

Example of a Block

Aspect: Function (selected from the 4 aspects)

Name: Heat exchange system (given by the user)

Purpose: Heat exchange (selected from a list defined in RDL [4])

Purpose attributes: (important system parameters that influence the system performance selected from a list defined in RDL [3])

  • heat transmission rate
  • volumetric flowrate
  • maximal/minimal allowed temperature

Supplementary attributes: Standard, design code

Input media: material fluid

Output media: material fluid

Example of IMF models



User manual version 2 [coming soon]

ISO/IEC 81346-1

Industrial systems, installations and equipment and industrial products — Structuring principles and reference designations — Part 1: Basic rules



ISO 15926-14

Industrial automation systems and integration — Integration of life-cycle data for process plants including oil and gas production facilities — Part 14: Data model adapted for OWL2 Direct Semantics



reference data library, a set of words with “comments” and reference to an upper ontology based on ISO 15926-14



OTTR:ontology template language

Reasonable Ontology Templates (OTTR) is a language with supporting tools for representing and instantiating RDF graph and OWL ontology modelling patterns. It is designed to improve the efficiency and quality of building, using, and maintaining knowledge bases.


Source Code

Current Ontology and SHACL shapes:


Erlend Fjøsna, Torleif Saltvedt, Arild Waaler, Magnus Knædal, Vetle Koppergård, Lillian Hella, Martin Georg Skjæveland, Rustam Mehmandarov, Mihaly Fekete, Baifan Zhou, Christian Kindermann, Ratan Bahadur Thapa




The development of the Information Modelling Framework (IMF) was progressed through the READI Joint Industry Project, resulting in an IMF Concept document issued in March 2021. Following this, the development continued as part of the Equinor’s Krafla and Wisting project, and then was extended to include the partners of the NOAKA Digital Cooperation, Equinor and Aker BP. The SIRIUS Centre at the University of Oslo has also contributed to the IMF work. In parallel with the continued development of the IMF, the implementation of IMF was pioneered by the Krafla project together with Aibel, being the engineering contractor. Learnings from this piloting has contributed significantly to enhancing IMF and documenting IMF in the form of a Reference Manual that comprises documentation and specifications that together answer what a company must do to implement and use IMF.