ARTICLE: AGILITY WITH MBSE

How MBSE makes product complexity more manageable and brings agility into the development process

Have you ever asked yourself the question of who will still be able to maintain an overview of the increasingly complex systems in your company or in your customers’ businesses in ten years’ time? The answer to this is just as short as it is sobering. Nobody!

The on-board computer for the first Apollo mission represented the pinnacle of what was technically possible at that time. Today, its computing power is easily exceeded a million times over by any standard smartphone. Growing product complexity is therefore classified as the greatest challenge for companies of the future – with good reason and right across industry.

Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) is addressing this issue and enables continuous system modelling across the entire system lifecycle. To make product complexity more manageable, document-based procedures are overhauled, all results from the various development activities are centralised in a common system model and access is granted on a context-specific basis.

However, there is also a lot more behind the four letters MBSE. Besides setting up a corresponding digital infrastructure, the migration of existing models is also an important aspect. The training of employees to handle the relevant methods and tools is an important foundation stone for successful introduction. The raising of awareness of the importance of MBSE is just as essential as giving consideration to individual characteristics of employees, the company culture and the existing digital business processes.

This is one more reason to once again highlight here the added value that integrated Model-Based Systems Engineering brings with it for implementation in the right level of detail:

  • Continuous requirements management

From the first sales meeting through to delivery: It is only by linking requirements along the entire vertical integration structure that companies will in future succeed in achieving a more flexible system design and cost-optimised manufacturing.

  • Interdisciplinary collaboration

MBSE does not mean the digitalisation of individual domain silos but rather close interchange in horizontal consistency across departments. System modelling at a functional and logical level particularly opens up the required transparency here.

  • Modern risk management

FEM simulations for load analysis of the shaft in the CAD model: That works in a modified form, also at higher levels of the system architecture. In this way, missing interfaces, unfulfilled requirements and incorrect design drafts can be pinpointed in early phases of the product lifecycle, and in advance of implementation into the production lines.

  • Integrated configuration management

The right product configuration at the right time: Bidirectional traceability of change implementation and effects across all levels will enable a change of view between various baselines and continuous version management of all products.

  • Agility in technical progress

More volatile markets require a high level of flexibility and adaptivity. MBSE brings the required agility into the value chain. By modelling dependencies, effects of changes on the affected systems and vertical repercussions in the architecture design, it will be possible to estimate the risk involved in replacing components or entire subsystems.

MBSE hands you concrete methods and tools to really implement the points mentioned and to benefit from this.
During the introduction, a pilot project is first implemented to approximate full introduction on a step-by-step basis. The comparison of the introduction targets with the results of an MBSE maturity level analysis can then form the kick-off for attaining the first concrete measures. In the implementation phase, a custom solution will then be approached, ideally iteratively.

What is left? Following successful implementation, catch-phrases such as Fast Learning Cycles and Rapid Control Prototyping will become operational practice in hardware development also. The transparency of the degree of product maturity will increase steadily and the products will be validated during current development and ensured accordingly.

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