Systems Engineering a Product Line: Bring on the Legos!

By jasonwickers

Systems Engineering: The Beginning?

Back in the 80’s I remember playing with the Space Line of Legos which included: moon bases, spaceships, rockets and endless hours of fun. As I’m writing, I’m feeling a wave of nostalgia come over me for that moment in time… racing down the aisles of the toy store and placing a death grip on the Lego box, leaping head first into the car for home, opening my new Lego set, and meticulously following the directions as I build at my parents’ kitchen table.

After a bit of focused time (also known as quiet time for my parents) I would have configured this gorgeous marvel of ingenuity packed with features galore (antennae, lasers, rockets) that would bring me hours of fun well into the evening.

Like most people who enjoy Legos, I didn’t just purchase one set and call it good. My parents bought me many sets to complete the story landscape. When there is no air in space, certainly you need a space car to take you from the outer region base on Planet X to your ship so that you can defeat the evil alien empire …

As my heroic day ended and the empire was defeated, my parents would unfortunately ask me to clean-up. This meant taking apart the vehicle and placing it into the Lego Bin. This container of dreams housed many space adventures and over time the bins filled and my parents stopped buying me more Legos. Now, this wasn’t because I out grew my toys, rather it was because my parents discovered the truth and conveyed their wisdom onto me:

“Why do you need more Legos? You can just build these sets with what you have …”

Click! The light bulb turned on and so began my systems engineering journey into Product Family Engineering, also known as Product Line Engineering.

The systems engineering concept behind Product Line Engineering is to create a portfolio of related products using a shared set of engineering assets (lego blocks/systems) and an efficient means of production (me!). By thinking of the product portfolio, or product family as a single entity, Product Line Engineering helps realize orders-of-magnitude improvements in engineering cost, time to market, productivity, product line scalability and quality.

By following industry standards and best practices, Systems Driven Product Development (SDPD) and Teamcenter can help you achieve these organizational benefits by expanding best-in-class Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) capabilities for architecture modelling and configuration management while bringing them up a level.

As SDPD continues its journey, we will keep you informed on the improvements we’re making to benefit your Product Line Engineering implementation through this blog, conferences and other avenues.

In the future, I’d like to discuss more about:

    • Establishing and tracking measures for performance
    • Savings through feature reuse
    • Driving your architecture from above
    • … and more!

I’m looking forward to the journey we are on and hope you’ll join in for the adventure! Be sure to check out related blogs and white papers for Systems Engineering and Systems Driven Product Development.

About the blogger:

As a Teamcenter product manager, Jason Wickers focuses on Systems Driven Product Development and how Product Line Engineering improves businesses through integrated solutions and lean practices.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at