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Integrated Simulation Manpower Analysis Tool

Several efforts are underway to acquire new classes of US Navy ships and to modernize older ships. A stated goal for each of these projects is to significantly reduce crew size, acquisition and life cycle costs. To achieve the goals of ensuring that future platforms are not only affordable and effective but also operable and maintainable with fewer personnel, a reconceptualization of the system design process is in order. The Navy can no longer afford to rely on "stove-piped" engineering practices that fail to consider overall system (including human) requirements. The automation of selected human functions on future US Navy ships has been identified as a critical factor in achieving necessary manning and cost reductions, as well as improving future system performance. However, to determine the optimal allocation of functions - the appropriate mix of human and machine-systems engineers must have tools and processes to support human-centered engineering from the outset of the design.



The purpose of the Integrated Simulation Manpower Analysis Tool (ISMAT) is to address these needs and evaluate the effects of reduced manning on system design, performance and cost.

The scope of the functional analyses includes operations, facilities maintenance, planned preventive maintenance, and unplanned corrective maintenance. ISMAT allows for evaluation and trade-off analyses of manning during both normal and emergency or special conditions for a variety of operational activities (e.g., underway in open water, entering port, heavy weather, man overboard, fire, combat operations). ISMAT incorporates task characteristics, task timelines, situational awareness, as well as operator knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) into a dynamic human performance simulation framework.


ISMAT can assist three main types of customers, each with specific needs. The first customer type is ship acquisition programs and manpower budgeting offices, which are responsible for evaluating contractor design proposals in terms of manpower-related requirements and coordinating manpower issues across all entities (Recruiting, Training, Promotion, etc). Examples of these offices are Program Executive Office, Future Land Attack Destroyer (PEO DD(X)), and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower & Reserve Affairs). The second customer type is manpower validation offices, which are tasked with providing the Navy community manpower levels required for every platform in the US Navy inventory. The third customer type is the prime contractors who are designing new and modernized ships. In addition to all U.S. Navy platforms, such as DD, CG, LHD, CV, CVN, FFG, etc., potential users include the Coast Guard, Maritime Administration, and Army Corps of Engineers.

The goal of the ISMAT SBIR program was to develop a tool that can be used early in the design process to assess the impact of reduced manning levels on performance in various dimensions of the systems.

The basic underpinning of an ISMAT analysis is the development and execution of a human performance or network simulation. The simulation depicts the logical flow of operator tasks as a mission is performed, and the time consumed by those tasks as they are executed. Tasks are scheduled for execution as events occur in the simulation. These events include changes in the scenario, completion of a precursor task, or expiration of a time period. System performance is described in terms of the time required to execute the mission and time delays in responding to various events.

ISMAT integrates skill and ability requirements with the dynamic human performance simulation framework, such that the performance consequences of different task allocation schemes can be observed and quantified. ISMAT provides a unique capability to the Navy analyst in that it not only examines the skills required to perform specific tasks but also describes new operators that are developed as a result of the skill requirements of individual tasks that must be performed. This allows ISMAT to perform three tasks. First, ISMAT can provide guidance to the user when tasks are assigned to operators, by listing all the existing operators that contain the requisite levels of the necessary skills. Second, ISMAT has the ability to allocate tasks to operators “on the fly,” whenever competing (parallel) tasks need available crew at the same time during the ships’ deployment. Finally, ISMAT is able to indicate whether a task has a unique skill (i.e., one that is not available in the crew). This task would then be a candidate for redesign, automation, or possibly a training solution.

ISMAT can also be used to predict maintenance manhour requirements for preventive, corrective, and facilities maintenance tasks. ISMAT includes a large library of Navy data from the Navy’s Planned Maintenance System (PMS) that can be included in any analysis and edited for particular analysis needs.

Once the analysis has been defined, ISMAT automatically generates a simulation model from the user’s inputs and executes the tasks as they would be performed in a real voyage, taking into consideration the variability in task performance time and accuracy. Unlike a static flow diagram of shipboard activities, the models created with ISMAT are able to simulate the interplay of activities and influences between crewmembers, automation devices, and conditions outside of the environment of the ship being modeled.


Output parameters include manhour requirements, planned versus actual mission performance, a listing of functions/tasks that were delayed due to manpower constraints, relative cost, equipment failure, and skill and ability profiles.

Through iterative use, ISMAT can help analysts determine of the best allocation of tasks to personnel and the level of automation necessary to handle crew overload situations. By performing this analysis before the prototype stage and by varying assumed level of automation, task allocations, crew characteristics, mission scenarios, and execution goals, considerable time and expense can be saved by eliminating faulty design options.

For more information on ISMAT, please contact us at


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