Charting a path forward with MBSE

Creating a plan for a product as complex as an aircraft is highly important, and not just because of the sophisticated understanding of physics needed for flight. The goal is to meet all of the product and mission requirements, but without a rigorous and systematic approach to development problems are bound to bind progress. Developing a single control surface may sound, relatively, trivial to an entire aircraft when in actuality it is itself a complex system. The shape of the surface needs to be optimized, along with the control mechanism, the electronic activators, and the software logic for how this surface integrates with the rest of the aircraft. A plan needs to be made that encompasses every aspect of the system, including its connections to the greater product system. Model-based systems engineering (MBSE) is the organizing principle and methodology for this planning process.

That is not entirely new, systems engineering has been part of development for decades and models have been critical to that process for a while as well. The difference is that now it is being done exclusively with comprehensive and consolidate digital models. Everyone has access to the information they need, updated to the correct revision for their tasks. A mechanical engineer will have updated dimension requirements if a wire harness needs to be larger or a software engineer will know when there are hardware updates to a sensor array. This empowers user to create their best system while maintaining adherence to the requirements. Comprehensive planning also extends out to the supplier network, ensuring that a control system being made by one company integrates with the wiring harness manufactured by another and the software from the OEM can communicate across each of the components.

Implementing the future

Unfortunately plans are not always permanent, especially in innovative industries like aerospace. New regulations or technologies might come along that completely upend the value proposition of an original design. It could also result from a supply chain problem and a component needs to be replaced quickly by a different contractor. Whatever the reason, it is important to be able to update the plan for a new future. As with the original design, development starts with defining the change – have requirements been changed? If so, what groups does the change impact? The change flows through each of the relevant groups and becomes the new definition and any problems from the integration bubble back up to iterate on them again. Change management is very important to stay on track for development timelines and to retain the decision reasoning. And system simulation enables a vision of the future to guide development towards success.

Accessing expertise

Experience is important to any process, lending insight on making something in less time, at a higher quality, at lower cost, or any combination of the three. Finding the right technology supplier or vendor relies on integrating their expertise into the MBSE workflow. The entire system relies on product lifecycle management to bring together the different development domains. System requirements should shared to understand what a contracted component will deliver and what is required of it. Everyone needs to share a common language in the MBSE methodology, out of the box to maintain accurate communication on such massive projects. These are a few of the requirements to creating a successful relationship MBSE and your supplier network, but there are many more in chapter five of our eBook on MBSE. There is a lot to consider and it is important to have the full picture before diving headlong into the future of complex development.

MBSE is not a tool, it is a methodology, the tools are the compatible software environments that enable innovative designs and development. Model-based systems engineering is the set of instructions for the product, but because you are making something completely knew the making the blueprint is the first step and will be revisited as the design is changed and refined. Siemens provides a deep engineering expertise to help jump-start this process and develop the mission-critical systems of tomorrow faster and better, along with providing insight on the organizational and social changes needed for such a revolutionary change. For a broader scope of what MBSE if for, check out our topic page as well.

Siemens Digital Industries Software is driving transformation to enable a digital enterprise where engineering, manufacturing and electronics design meet tomorrow. Xcelerator, the comprehensive and integrated portfolio of software and services from Siemens Digital Industries Software, helps companies of all sizes create and leverage a comprehensive digital twin that provides organizations with new insights, opportunities and levels of automation to drive innovation.

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