The U.S. Navy is doing a better job of tracking ship life-cycle costs and needs, but now the service wants a more efficient, faster and more reliable method of transferring that information to those who need it.

“The Navy wants access to the data that supports the ship’s entire life cycle,” says Greg Antal, the senior technical adviser for ATA Engineering of San Diego. ATA developed ShipDX, which provides a digital product model (DPM) data transfer between the Navy’s Leading Edge Architecture for Prototyping Systems (Leaps) database and shipbuilder design software tools.

ShipDX combines 3D geometry with product structures, Antal says. The software tool helps identify components and their relationships within the ship structure.

“It shows what’s there, why it’s there and how it relates to the other ship’s parts,” he said during a briefing at the annual Navy Opportunity Forum for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)-funded programs in Arlington, Va., this month.

While the Navy has required ship-class data to be entered into Leaps, that data entry currently have to be done manually, Antal notes. The cost for doing that is very prohibitive.

The SBIR-backed ShipDX, he says, provides a suite of translators, to not only take some of the sting out of the data entry, but also make it easier for ship suppliers and others connected to the programs to exchange information. Data labor costs could be reduced by a factor of 100 using ShipDX, Antal asserts.

A good candidate for the software tool is the DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyer now being built for the Navy, according to Antal. The software has already been used to develop a Leaps-type database from the “native” DDG-1000 data delivered from a “proprietary product life-cycle management environment,” the company says. Other vessels for which ShipDX could be used include the CVN-78 Ford-class carrier or the Ohio-class submarine replacement.