Shipdex is an international protocol developed to standardise the electronic exchange of technical data. The companies say that the aim of introducing this standard protocol is to rationalise the proliferation of vessel technical information, currently supplied in various formats and, as such, not immediately usable in different computer systems.
Shipdex intends to improve on this situation by providing an open XML-based standard which may be implemented, even in existing systems, by all parties " including ship owners, managers, equipment manufacturers, shipyards, and IT providers.
The Shipdex protocol will be made available to everyone who registers with the programme, which can be done at www.shipdex.com.
The system has been jointly developed by founder members Alfa Laval, Grimaldi Group (Naples), Intership Navigation, MacGregor Group, MAN Diesel, SpecTec, and Yanmar.
Speaking at the Shipdex launch in Cyprus, Capt Eugen-Henning Adami of Intership explained that the project had been born out of exasperation at the inflexibility of the vast number of technical manuals delivered with every vessel.
"We got frustrated about this, and the way forward was to agree that we had to do something," he said.
"For twenty years we've talked to suppliers, but nothing really happened. But when two shipowners came together (Grimaldi and Intership), with similar equipment and with 200 vessels to negotiate with, they listened to us."
Capt Adami hopes that this protocol can become a standard in the industry, written into newbuild contracts from the beginning to make everyone's life easier.
An unspecified registration fee will be necessary to access the Shipdex protocol, though the founders stress that this will be a small amount used merely to cover the cost of running the website that will be used to distribute the necessary data. Shipdex will be a non-profit organisation, and the protocol will be available to everyone in the industry.