Many of the factors that push companies towards adopting model-based systems engineering (MBSE) can seem urgent and in some cases they are, but rushing into a solution is not a great solution. Even though MBSE is a robust and tested methodology to overcome the strife’s on industry, it’s benefit comes from its generality and cannot be instilled haphazardly while expecting success. There are some important things to understand before implementing such a comprehensive approach to development – it starts with instilling a systems level schema for your product. It is an abstraction of the product to solve the major questions before creating the more technical specifications. And it relies on a comprehensive and continuous validation process. Each of these points could constitute an entire book, but there are some simple ideas to guide further inspection.
For a bit more information, you may want to read an extended explanation published by Engineering.com.
A new way of thinking
Adopting an MBSE methodology is first and foremost a change in how businesses think about a product, starting from the earliest concept design phase to the end of a product’s usable life. A product does not come into existence out of nothing, it is a cooperative effort from design teams, business interests, manufacturing requirements, performance expectations of the customer, environmental regulations, and much more. Connecting each of these groups is not a trivial task and is why digitalization is critical to any modern MBSE approach. Rather than each group working semi-independently and validating work further on in development, a successful MBSE approach helps to manage the production and process through digital twins and ensuring that the information is accessible to all stakeholders around the company while maintaining an authoritative source of truth.
Defining a model
That is a good goal to have, but it can seem somewhat abstract without models to facilitate understanding. Model is a flexible term within MBSE. It might be a flow chart of connected physical systems or the behavior of a software systems. But it is also digital representations of the physical systems. It is the simulations, analysis, and testing of the different systems in the product. Whatever the model represents, it started from the requirements of the system of systems and is held within the digital twin. During development these requirements are refined and applied to systems with finer detail. For example, one requirement might start as an emergency breaking distance in an autonomous car but turn into far more technical models of the software that detects an obstacle, the electrical systems sending the signals, and the hardware applying pressure to the breaking surfaces to bring the vehicle to a stop in time.
Getting the right solution
Sharing requirements, a mindset, and models is great, but only goes so far in creating some of the most complex products today. There also needs to be a validation process to ensure that the results of the many different development processes are meeting the requirements of the system. That does not mean that a system meets its specific requirements, but that during operation its influence would not adversely impact the other systems in meeting requirements. In the emergency braking example, the software and electrical systems might be able to work within the right time range to brake effectively, but if the mechatronics controlling the brake calipers do not respond correctly the entire system may fail the global requirement of breaking distance. Continuously validating the interconnected systems is absolutely critical, to completely define the interfaces between systems and accurately describe the complete system as it might function in the real world.
Application takes time
Implementing even one of these practices across an entire business is a large task and doing all of it at once would be foolhardy for even the most experienced. Starting small and building an MBSE approach sustainably means prioritizing longevity and efficacy of the program over immediate returns. Fast growth will likely lead to shortcuts based on existing methods, negating the benefits afforded by an MBSE methodology. And as discussed in the introduction to this topic, there is so much variety in MBSE approaches that the small pilot programs provide a low-risk environment to learn what works best for a business and create the workflows that will establish their future operations. For more information of this topic, definitely check out the Engineering.com article. Or maybe head over to the Siemens Software page on model-based systems engineering.
Siemens Digital Industries Software helps organizations of all sizes digitally transform using software, hardware and services from the Siemens Xcelerator business platform. Siemens’ software and the comprehensive digital twin enable companies to optimize their design, engineering and manufacturing processes to turn today’s ideas into the sustainable products of the future. From chips to entire systems, from product to process, across all industries, Siemens Digital Industries Software is where today meets tomorrow.