Economic Impact Assessment of the International Standard for the Exchange of Product Model Data (STEP) in Transportation Equipment Industries
The Standard for Exchange of Product model data (STEP) is an international standard designed to address interoperability problems encountered in the exchange of digital product information. STEP is a suite of standards enabling manufacturing companies to exchange digital representations of engineering and manufacturing data. The first 12 parts of STEP were formally approved as international standards in January 1995. Since then, an additional 18 parts have become international standards. Over 20 more are nearing international standard status, with many more in earlier development stages. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has made significant contributions to STEP, beginning in the mid 1980s and continuing today. NIST has contributed to the development of the STEP standard, the integration of STEP functionality into applications, and the adoption of STEP functionality by end users. NIST also participated in several public-private partnerships involving demonstrations and development projects with software developers, industry, and other federal agencies. Many of these initiatives were designed to demonstrate STEP’s economic advantages relative to defender technologies and promote its deployment. The objective of this study is to conduct an economic impact assessment of STEP’s use by transportation equipment industries, namely the automotive, aerospace, shipbuilding, and specialty tool and die industries. Both the full potential and current realized benefits are quantified. In addition, the study investigates the impact of NIST’s administrative and technical contributions to STEP. We estimate the economic value of the efficiency gains due to improved data exchange enabled by using STEP, and we quantify NIST’s contributions to those gains.