Norfolk, VA One difficulty encountered with using data from multiple sources for design is detecting the relationships and anomalies among the data sets, whether it's FEA, solid modeling, or other types of data. The U.S. Navy's Surface Warfare Development Group (SWDG) wrestles with such issues when analyzing tactical exercises with its Ship Anti-submarine Warfare Readiness Effectiveness Measuring (SHAREM).
"We used to look at a variety of spreadsheets, logs, and rudimentary line drawings," says Patrick J. Jackson, SWDG's deputy directory of undersea warfare. "You couldn't really see what was going on between ships, submarines, helicopters, aircraft, and sonobuoy data."
Types of data tracked in the Navy's SHAREM exercises include acoustic energy, electromagnetic energy, sound speed, water temperature, water salinity, the roughness of the water's surface, and the paths of various craft. What the Navy needed was a way of incorporating the data without degrading it.
SWDG found their solution in a visualization software package from Advanced Visual Systems (AVS; Albuquerque, NM). The multi-dimensional, user-oriented synthetic environment (MUSE) software acts as a shell, using original data without translating it into programming language.
The software operates independently of computing platforms. For example, several users can be linked, viewing the same simulation on Unix and on Windows NT platforms while using joysticks, mice, and other devices.
During development, one of the programmers was able to pick out submarine contacts determined to be invalid during the original reconstruction. Using the visualization software, the programmer proved the inter-relationship between the two units and validated the contacts. The programmer had never been involved in any maritime exercises or been on a ship, but was able to pick up contacts that Navy personnel missed.
"The difference is like night and day," says Jackson. "We see interactions and are exposed to all different contributing variables that are not available from the spreadsheet alone."
Manufacturers use MUSE software for simulation and prototyping of complex products and manufacturing processes. Users integrate data from most types of CAD, CAM, mechanical design automation, and modeling and information management systems into custom applications that, for example, validate sheer stress and strain, or help detect thermoelectric problems.