To succeed in today’s competitive market, companies must find ways to develop and manage products that are becoming increasingly more complex. Organizations are finding that digital threads can help connect the critical flow of data across and throughout the product development lifecycle. These digital threads allow for tracing requirements from design to manufacturing, validate the design meets the system requirements, as well as providing the necessary knowledge throughout the production lifecycle across all disciplines. Model-based systems engineering (MBSE) approaches are a vital part of digital threads. They help bring together all the pieces of the product lifecycle puzzle to ensure success.
There is no question that demand for smart, connected products is driving remarkable increases in product complexity. Design engineers must contend with more software, more electronics, more electrical systems, and more data requirements. As a result, keeping the engineering team and other stakeholders on the same page during the design process is no easy task.
Systems engineering approaches offer a more methodical way to organize, coordinate, and collaborate. Many organizations are turning to MBSE to help connect the virtual dots between requirements, design, analysis, and validation from the very beginning of the product lifecycle. They have found that this approach helps mitigate the many risks that come with rising product complexity, truncated timelines, and the business and operational disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
MBSE provides a touchstone for design teams. It offers an unambiguous single source of truth that holds all the data and design information required to keep engineers on the same page regarding even the most sophisticated of designs.
Although the MBSE process has many benefits, it hasn’t always been clear how an MBSE model hooks up to digital definitions created in the rest of the development process, and that’s a crucial consideration to maintain system integrity. When an engineer builds out a virtual product model of a mechanical assembly, that product model should have some digital connection to its equivalent in the MBSE model. But all too often, engineers must manually keep track of artifacts that need to be connected. And in the hectic back-and-forth iterations that happen between engineering and design teams, these connections can be outdated or forgotten entirely. This shortcoming transforms into a calamity when the prototype fails in testing or change requests start pouring in.
The key to unwinding the isolation of MBSE models lies in connecting them with the product lifecycle management (PLM) and application lifecycle management (ALM) platforms that act as the backbone of product development. Integrating an MBSE model directly into these systems of records ensures that requirements are allocated to the right digital representations and that they also stay associatively connected. This provides critical bidirectional traceability necessary for validation of complex systems found in the aerospace and automotive industries.
Technology solutions that can facilitate this sort of integration from the beginning of design are a boon to engineering teams and the manufacturing enterprise as a whole. They ensure that different departments within an organization can easily connect, share information, and collaborate in ways that accelerate the design and production of smart, connected products.
When it comes time to digitally verify system architectures, it is critical to have access to both the MBSE model and the requirements along with other key information that is housed in PLM and ALM systems. This access is also needed during the allocation of requirements that act as the basis of detailed design and the validation of system performance and requirements verification during physical testing. Companies must recognize such a need and develop technologies to make the connections. An example of a Digital Thread connection are the SysML Connectors to Teamcenter developed from HCL Technologies, an innovative solution that integrates MBSE models with PLM/ALM systems. These connectors synchronize MBSE model data to the product data in PLM and ALM solutions. It provides all stakeholders access to the same information about a product design, facilitates collaboration, and tracks changes across the engineering design lifecycle. By leveraging these types of connectors, product development teams can keep their MBSE models and PLM/ALM in sync, fully realizing the value of system engineering efforts. In turn, they can use this connected information flow to mitigate potential system failures due to rising complexity of new products that can cause major business disruptions and impact customer satisfaction.
To manage the increased complexity of smart, connected products, organizations are pursuing a range of digital thread initiatives. One of those is model-based systems engineering, or MBSE, an approach that can help enhance communication and collaboration and reduce development and design risks. Yet, the full value of MBSE can only be realized if models can be synchronized with other key sources of design and product data—mainly, critical PLM and ALM platforms. New solutions are now available in the marketplace to connect these various systems, helping to ensure that design engineers and other critical stakeholders can better manage business disruptions, shortened design phases, and more complex product requirements.
The Siemens & HCL Technologies Partnership on MBSE
Having supported 1000+ successful product launches across multiple industries for our customers, HCL Technologies Engineering & R&D Services (ERS) has rich and strong experience with Siemens Digital Industries Software platform development, implementation and support . HCL has a dedicated R&D Unit focused on developing solutions for ALM, MBSE, and System Simulation. Enabling integration of systems engineering is the key vision of HCL’s ModEx strategy and it supports integration of Teamcenter with requirement engineering, system modeling, design and product engineering tools.
Lou Pascarella – CTO Digital Transformation PLM Practice, HCL technologies
Dr. Nikhil Joshi – MBSE Product Architect, HCL Technologies