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NIST tool makes manufacturers' computer systems smarter, saving time and money

State: Maryland

Region: Mid-Atlantic

Agency: Dept. of Commerce

National Institute of Standards and Technology - NIST

A new web-based tool from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) makes it easier for computer systems within a company to share and understand data, making modern “smart” manufacturing systems even smarter.

These systems digitally connect and use data. To make these connections, standards are needed to simplify how information is shared across different programming languages, operations, and industry sectors.

But developing, using, and maintaining data exchange standards for large, complex industrial systems is often difficult and costly. It’s akin to trying to develop a single user interface for a flight simulator with many types of users by controlling each pixel on the screen using a separate programming language, rather than enabling those different programs to share the data needed for a cohesive user experience.

The NIST Score tool analyzes the different standard terms used across an organization’s interfaces, then identifies the right terms that will allow different computer programs to talk to one another. It is the first data exchange tool to support the ISO 15000-5 industry standard, which is critical for manufacturers.

The NIST Score technology was developed by the NIST Engineering Laboratory, in partnership with industry representatives at the Open Applications Group, Inc. (OAGi). OAGi is a not-for-profit organization that develops “open” standards (available and free for anyone) and promotes business processes that allow different software platforms to talk to each other.

The NIST Score tool is now embedded into the Open Applications Group Integration Specification (OAGIS), the most popular industry standard for data exchanges between manufacturing applications, and is being used by companies like Boeing, Land O’ Lakes, and Lockheed Martin.

The OAGIS + Score tool has resulted in real-world time and cost savings compared to traditional approaches.

For example, before using the technology, one Boeing group had 38 different interfaces running on their system just for managing purchase orders.

“We have reduced the number of interfaces we maintain from 38 to seven,” said Jeff Rice, Boeing’s Lead Application Architect. “That’s real dollars.”

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