Troy, New York - April 24, 2001 - STEP Tools, Inc., the forerunner in developing STEP-integration solutions for the global marketplace, announced today it has updated its STEP Repository Solution, which was developed to help companies manage and document design-through-manufacturing processes based on the STEP (Standard for Product Data Exchange) international data format. STEP provides an explicit, complete representation of product data throughout its entire life cycle. The Repository now incorporates emerging programming standards and toolsets for defining and creating Web applications and services. The solution also includes an updated version of XML (eXtensible Markup Language) with new formats to query and update a STEP database, and new EXPRESS-X language that conforms to a Draft International Standard (ISO). The Repository seamlessly communicates with the widest variety of CAD, CAM, CAE and PDM software because it is based on ISO 10303 STEP standards adopted as National Standards by seventeen countries including the USA, UK, France, Germany, Korea and Japan.
For companies who have standardized on STEP, or for firms looking to become ISO compliant, STEP Tools Repository Solution is the ideal tool to control and archive engineering product data," states Dr. Martin Hardwick, CEO and president of STEP Tools, Inc. "Our database management product provides an intuitive framework allowing IT professionals or programmers to build both network-based or Web-based programs/servers that deliver information needed for Design, PDM, Procurement and Manufacturing applications. The Repository makes it easy for an enterprise to create programs that describe and communicate 3D product data, such as Requests for Quotes (RFQs), parts lists, or assembly information, with its internal and external supply chains.
Many companies experience a significant reduction in product development cost by working with STEP, a widely used international data standard, instead of many proprietary formats. In today's design-to-manufacturing environment, product data is managed in different CAD/CAM/CAE systems with little integration and substantial data redundancy. Typical benefits derived from a STEP Repository database management application include a 75% reduction in the cost of producing and delivering RFQs, a 35% reduction in the cost of manufacturing planning operations, and a 50% increase in the speed of manufacturing operations for small run production.
STEP Tools' Repository Solution incorporates support for emerging Web programming languages and standards, such as those arising from the UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration) initiative, intended to form a collection of registries and databases describing what businesses do and how to access their services electronically. The STEP Repository supports WSDL (Web Services Description Language, a merger of technologies between IBM and Microsoft), which is an XML format for describing those UDDI business and network services. The Repository also supports IBM's Network Accessible Services Specification Language and Microsoft's SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) contract language - both of which work in conjunction with WSDL. The Repository's core technology consists of mapping engines that enables CAD, CAM, CAE and PDM information to be delivered as XML business objects using SOAP and WSDL protocols. The solution now includes new XML formats for querying and updating the STEP database. STEP uses its own language called EXPRESS, the only widely available data language that describes the complexities of solid geometry. The Repository provides support for the recently updated EXPRESS-X, which now conforms to a Draft International Standard (ISO). Buyers can choose between the Apache SOAP server and the Microsoft ".net" server. Release 2.0 of the STEP Repository includes a plug-in Viewer serving as an easy-to-use interface to STEP data information, and displays product identification, assembly structures and 3D geometry.
There has always been a disparity between the viable lifetimes of software systems and the information they produce," states Dr. David Loffredo, Vice President of Product Development at STEP Tools, Inc. "Just count the number of outdated word-processing files on your PC. This problem is more pronounced with engineering software. CAD and analysis systems change every one to three years, but CAD data, blueprints and manufacturing plans for aircraft, ships, and buildings must be kept and archived for thirty to fifty years. Clearly, storing crucial information in proprietary files won't work in the long run. That is why experts around the world have been working to create a STEP standard for engineering information that is computer-sensible, neutral, extensible and international. A minivan is still built from the same parts, regardless of whether the parts list is stored as punch cards, a relational database, or Enterprise JavaBeans."
STEP can be continually expanded and refined, so that it will not be out of date. STEP Tool's Repository Solution gives a company access to all of the critical "design through manufacturing" information captured within a STEP file, making it a valid solution for the long-term archival requirements of many industries. Companies working toward ISO compliancy also require database management toolsets for stringent documentation purposes. Because the core of the STEP standard is a catalog of reusable engineering definitions or "Application Protocols", each application protocol meets the information sharing requirements for particular industries and engineering activities.