The recent joint annual meeting of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers and the World Maritime Technology Exposition in San Francisco formed the backdrop for the formal introduction and demonstration of the SMaRTMarine system developed by Scientia Technologies. Shipbuilding and repair activities depend heavily on two outputs of the engineering process: drawings and technical specifications. Over the past 20 years CAD has transformed the way that drawings are produced, however specifications still largely depend on error prone inefficient manual processes. Scientia has developed a new approach to modeling technical requirements employing the latest advances in artificial intelligence. Its SMaRTMarine solution (Systems Modeling and Reasoning Tool) revolutionizes the way that Technical Specifications are produced.
Technical Specifications are of critical importance because they form the primary vehicle for defining requirements for various design phases and procurement of goods and services used in the construction and repair of vessels. According to research, over 58 percent of the costs of vessel construction or conversions are attributed to the procurement of goods and services.
Scientia’s approach is to build an underlying formal engineering foundation for the preparation of specifications. Whereas CAD creates a geometric model from which drawings are produced, SMaRT creates an engineering requirements model from which documents are produced. The benefits of this approach are that a much higher level of consistency and quality can be achieved while scope changes can be quickly assessed and reflected throughout the documentation.
Scientia has built a formal marine engineering ontology that describes systems, equipment and important relationships at various levels as applicable to different design phases, procurement, integration and quality assurance. An important part of the SMaRT suite of software products is the knowledge discovery software, which is used by experienced engineers to rapidly capture both explicit and tacit knowledge. As a result, companies can now capture the knowledge of their experienced engineers, best practices, internal standards and, embed them into their company-wide working processes thus improving efficiencies and quality.
The system uses a very powerful desktop based expert system and knowledge bases to continually check for inconsistencies across all values and parameters entered into the model. Classification and safety authorities rules are also included constraining the decision-making process and providing conformance across a wide range of regulatory requirements. Engineers can confidently follow the process having the necessary guidance and reference information available when needed. Interface control and integration checklists are also facilitated by SMaRT assisting in complex integration tasks, which may be of primary importance in ship repairs, conversions and complex newbuilding projects. The system is currently under beta tests with selected customers in North America and will be available, commercially, in 2004.