Department of Defense, leading Standards Developers, IHSMarkit, and XSB Join Together for Next Generation “Standards as Digital Models”

 In Department of Defense, Interoperability, Standards Developing Organizations

Military Specifications, ASTM, ASME, SAE and other key industry standards will deliver enhanced usability to DoD users as SWISS smart connected documents.

New York, NY. On August 16, 2018, the manufacturing, energy, and aerospace and defense industries took an important step in their digital transformation by agreeing to integrate critical non-government industry standards with US Military Specifications (MIL Specs) in a next-generation digital data format called SWISS. Approximately 10 Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs) have agreed to make select industry standards available in the SWISS format to a pilot group of approximately 12,000 DoD users pending final terms and details. SWISS transforms static engineering documents into intelligent, interoperable digital models which help DoD specialists rapidly identify the information they need to develop technical data packages, procurement and acceptance materials while improving document configuration management.

DoD MIL Specs are used by Military procurement and engineering teams to ensure that Military-acquired products achieve interoperability and meet certain requirements of performance, safety, cost, and quality. Over 75,000 active MIL Specs reference tens of thousands of non-government industry standards, but there are no active links or connections to view those documents. Military standards users spend many hours navigating between MIL Specs and the industry standards they reference. Finding the information they need, keeping track of updates, and then assessing the impact of those changes on their programs is a tedious, time-consuming task that is prone to human error and imperfect outcomes. These challenges are illustrated below in Figures 1-3.

Figures 1 and 2 show that technical information users, such as DoD personnel and suppliers, extract text, tables, graphs, equations, and images from multiple PDF and print sources to create derivative works. The typical process involves a great deal of copying, pasting, and manually rekeying of data, leading to excessive time, cost, and risk in the project lifecycle. The resulting documents are commonly shared with team members and suppliers in print and PDF format, extending the difficulty downstream as subsequent users repeat the process of extracting and producing new documents for their specific tasks.

Figure 1. Engineering information users combine multiple sources of data to create derivative works such as work instructions, RFPs, technical data packages, and more.

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Figure 2. The most common way of getting the information they need into other applications is to copy, paste, and manually rekey which costs companies excessive time, money, and risk.

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To compound the problem, as shown in Figure 3, users at every stage of the project are often unaware when materials are updated by authoritative sources, creating a web of inconsistent and outdated information across the enterprise and supply chain. Such inconsistencies create a host of expensive problems including late stage rework, wasted materials, quality and performance deficiencies, regulatory non-compliance, and product liability. In the case of the DoD, this can mean significant cost overruns on taxpayer dollars and delayed support for the warfighter.

Figure 3. Inefficient change management leads to inconsistent and outdated information across the enterprise and supply chain.

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SWISS (Semantic Web for Interoperable Specifications and Standards) is an interoperable linked-data platform, developed with funding from the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) R&D program, ASTM International, and XSB. SWISS transforms static engineering documents into “Smart Connected Documents” which know their meaning and their status, contain active links to all their references, and can notify users downstream when any part is updated that impacts other documents, applications, or processes. SWISS facilitates seamless interoperability not only between MIL Specs and non-government industry standards, but also between internal corporate documentation (like product specs, test plans, etc) and the industry standards that they reference. With SWISS digital data, static documents become intelligent and actionable and help engineers do their work faster, with fewer errors, and less risk.

Companies using SWISS digital data can see productivity improvements of between 25-50%, reduce time to market by 25%, and reduce duplication of work by 30%.

During the meeting, the Defense Standardization Program Office Director (DSPO), Greg Saunders, discussed the DoD SWISS implementation with SDOs at the headquarters of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in New York City. Representatives from ASME, ASTM, SAE, ANSI, IEEE, IPC, AIA, UL, AWS, and NFPA were in attendance. The organizations agreed to support in principle the linking of their standards in SWISS format to DoD MIL Specs to create an interoperable network of smart connected documents. IHSMarkit, which licenses industry standards to most DoD divisions, will provide authentication services to ensure that DoD users get access to the proper content. The pilot users will be able to move seamlessly between MIL Specs and the industry standards they reference.

Greg Saunders, DSPO Director, says, “The interoperability gained through SWISS will dramatically reduce engineering time to knowledge and make it possible to provide truly tailored, targeted, and engineered content that integrates both external and internal standards.”

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