Shipdex, a standard for transferring maintenance data and instructions between equipment manufacturers and shipping companies, is now able to transfer data back to manufacturers.

Until now, it was a one-way system, for manufacturers to provide shipping companies with maintenance instructions and data in a structured format, which would be easier to work with than paper or pdf technical manuals.

The ‘back channel’ standard, called Shipdex-F, where F is for feedback, enables maintenance-related data to be sent by shipping companies back to manufacturers.

Manufacturers might want this data so they can know about any failures of their equipment in use. They might, in this case, want to know whether maintenance was done according to their instructions, or if the correct spare parts were added.

This data could be used by manufacturers to continually improve the quality of their products, and their maintenance plans, and better improve their estimation of mean time between failure (MTBF) and MTTR (mean time to resolve).

Manufacturers can use the data to do an analysis of the operation and maintenance performance of all of their equipment and improve their support.

Manufacturers already developing systems to accept data in the standard include MAN and Win-GD.

How Shipdex works

Shipdex is an independent and non-proprietary standard protocol, open to all maritime stakeholders. It was created by the non-profit Shipdex organisation. The web page is

Shipdex data is shared in a structured format (xml), rather than in Word or pdf, which are normally used for documents.

By sending data in a structured format, the receiving software can more easily work out what information the user needs, without needing to understand the specific structure of the document (chapters and paragraphs).

The data can be automatically loaded into maintenance and enterprise resource planning systems, and only needs to be loaded in once.

The maintenance instructions and data can include instructions on how to do the maintenance, how to do specific jobs, and what spare parts need to be used.

Easier to manage

The structured data format makes maintenance instructions and related data easier to manage, compared to sending it as part of lengthy documents.

If there is any update to the data, only the relevant data needs to be updated.

There can also be systems for translating text and approving individual sections of content, rather than having to deal with an entire manual at once.

The final manual or instructions can be assembled within the shipping company’s software, based on whatever layout is most useful to them, without affecting the data.

The standard for the transfer of documentation and spare parts data from the manufacturer to the shipping company is called Shipdex-D, where D stands for documentation. It is based on the S1000D system used in the aviation industry.

The standard for data feedback from the shipping company to the manufacturer is called Shipdex-F. It is also based on an aviation industry standard, called S5000F.

(source: The Digital Ship magazine)