Many companies want to extend the BowTieXP functionality to integrate with their (computerized) Maintenance Management System, so they can display the (real-time) availability of their hardware barriers.

Technical barriers usually consist of systems that are made up of multiple parts. By displaying the online/offline status of hardware parts and (sub)systems, decisions can be made in the context of live risk scenarios (bowties). This can help answer questions like “Can we still safely run operation X when hardware parts 1, 12 and 15 are offline?”

This blog introduces the Systems & Parts functionality that comes with the Advanced version of BowTieXP.

The concept

  • Purpose: To show the live status of barriers in BowTieXP by periodically assessing the components that are offline
  • ‘Components’ can be master systems, subsystems, or the tag items (Parts) that makeup (sub)systems
  • SAP can export tag-status data, that represents the online/offline status of parts, based on work order information
  • The external data can be imported into BowTieXP from manually-maintained spreadsheets
  • Other third-party system records (such as derived from SAP, Maximo, etc.) could export records such as in spreadsheets

Figure 1: Systems & Parts structure

In the example above, the parts are displayed in the far right column: tag list & status. Parts are the lowest level of hardware components on which the organization can retrieve an online/offline state. They are defined in the parts table and have a code, name and on/offline status. They do not contain any decision logic. Parts can be linked to (sub)systems, which are displayed in the middle column. On the level of systems, the decision logic is defined.

In figure 1, the logic for system 1.2 might be that 3 of 4 parts should be online to keep the system online. Because 2 of 4 parts are offline, the system is also offline and therefore colored red.

Going one step up the chain, system 1 consists of systems 1.1 and 1.2, where the logic might be that at least one of the subsystems should be online. Because 1.1 is still online, system 1 is also online. At the highest level, there are two systems connected to the barrier. One is the ‘detection’ component of the barrier, and the other is the ‘act’ component of the barrier. Ultimately, the barrier Automatic Deluge System is online, because its two main systems (1 & 2) are both online.

In the BowTieXP software, the visual representation (of a slightly different setup) will look like figure 2 below.

Figure 2: Systems & Parts visualization in BowTieXP

Steps to set up the Systems & Parts structure

To set up the Systems & Parts structure in the BowTieXP software, follow the steps below:

  1. Create or import all parts in the treeview of BowTieXP. Use the tag-id of the parts in the ‘Code’ field and put the name of the part in the ‘Name’ field.
  2. Create systems and subsystems in the treeview. They are a hierarchical link structure consisting of parts or underlying systems.
  3. Link parts to systems and subsystems by double-clicking on a (sub)system, going to the ‘Parts’ tab and selecting the right parts from the full list.
  4. Define online status criteria for (sub)systems by going to the ‘Online criteria’ tab and determine how many child-parts or subsystems should be online to consider the parent system online
  5. Link systems to barriers by double-clicking on a barrier, going to the ‘Systems’ tab, and selecting the system(s) that should be linked to the barrier.
  6. Define online status criteria, like in figure 3, on the barrier level by going to the ‘Online criteria’ tab on the barrier and determining how many systems should be online to consider the barrier online.

Figure 3: Set up online status criteria

Displaying online status on the diagram

Of course, the real value lies in visualizing the barrier status on the diagrams, to get a real-time risk picture. To get to this information, the display settings can be configured using the little eye icon in the bottom-right corner of a barrier. Check the ‘Online status info’ and ‘Systems’ boxes to display the linked systems and their status on a barrier level to get to the setup in the picture below (figure 4). Use ‘L’ for the Large description and ‘S’ for the small description.

Figure 4: Displaying system status information

To see the whole structure of a Systems & Parts tree, as can be seen in Figure 2 – Systems & Parts visualization in BowTieXP, right-click on the parent-system in the treeview > ‘Draw Relationship Model’ > ‘Online Status Overview’ (see figure 5). This will visualize that system with all its children, and show the online/offline status of each element.

Figure 5: Show online status overview

Import part status data into BowTieXP

Take the following steps to update the status of existing parts.

  1. Create an excel sheet containing the following columns:
    • Entity: this column should contain ‘part’ in every row.
    • Code: this is the tag ID of the part (should be the same as in the CMMS).
    • IsOnline: It needs the value ‘TRUE’ for online or ‘FALSE’ for offline for every part (figure 6)
  2. Use ‘Update existing data from external file…’ in the ‘File’ menu, select the excel file, select ‘Use ‘code’ value…’and click ‘Update data’. See figure 7 below.
  3. The part status is now updated according to the values in the excel sheet.

NOTE: in release 9.2 the set-up of systems and parts is slightly different. Would you like to know how this works, please contact

Figure 6: Import parts

Figure 7: Updating part statuses

Automating the process

Conversations with partners and customers have indicated that there is a need in the market for using hardware status data on a higher level. Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) are able to capture and display tag item (part) statuses. However, elegantly visualizing complete hierarchical systems and making the transition to risk scenarios and barrier performance cannot be done in those CMMSs. We are working on the automation of importing real-time data from CMMSs into BowTieServer, to ultimately visualize live dashboards and dynamic bowties that facilitate risk-based decision making in an ever-changing environment.