Model Based Systems Engineering: Tech Talk with Kiran Jacob, INCOSE Certified MBSE Specialist

With the increasing competition in manufacturing sector, what are the current challenges…

By Kiran Jacob

With the increasing competition in manufacturing sector, what are the current challenges that companies are facing today in your view?

With ever-increasing consumer needs and requirements, products inherently are becoming more and more complex, be it automobiles, aircrafts, or even home appliances like refrigerators or washing machines. One of the major contributors to this complexity is the use of software and electronics used in product development creating transdisciplinary-based problems for manufacturers. Companies also confront additional hurdles such as faster time to market, regulations, compliance, and safety, to name a few.

To understand this trans-disciplinary problem in more detail, consider the scenario of an automobile with AEBS (Autonomous Emergency Braking System) embedded in it. AEBS is an active safety feature that detects obstacles on road and prevents accidents by braking autonomously. AEBS usually consists of multiple sensors and ECU, which connects with a traditional braking system consisting of hydraulic and mechanical components thereby regulating the braking force applied on the wheels. In that sense, AEBS becomes a multidisciplinary system that combines mechanical, fluid, electrical, software, and electronics to achieve a common objective of autonomous braking.

In this scenario, if one makes a mistake in the value of variable used within a software code running on ECU, this might have huge implications on the working of AEBS thereby endangering the occupants of the vehicle. So automotive companies need to be very careful when it comes to implementing complex trans-disciplinary solutions associated with product development. Because of the disintegrating processes, tools, and lack of collaboration across development teams, it is difficult for automakers to uncover faults early in the development cycle, and by the time issues are discovered, it may be too late to correct them. Some of the challenges faced by companies due to this trans-disciplinary problem are:

  1. Establishing collaborations between various stakeholders in terms of integration, data continuity, communication, etc.
  2. Identifying and mitigating issues before it is too late
  3. Maintain consistency in the product development process
  4. Managing disintegrated tools and processes with each discipline following their process for design and implementation.
  5. Performing quick impact or coverage analysis.
  6. Avoiding cost and time overruns
  7. Incorporating new changes in the existing product workflow process becomes a tedious task

What is MBSE? Why is it gaining prominence in the current scenario. Do companies understand the need of implementation of MBSE today?

MBSE is a product development strategy that entails adopting a SE (Systems Engineering) process using a formal modeling approach. Again, to understand what is an SE process, SE is a product development process covering key lifecycle phases like concept, development, production, utilization, support, and retirement.

MBSE has gained prominence due to the fact companies are finding it difficult to manage so-called new age challenges associated with the product development process due to the complexity involved. The traditional approach of disintegrated processes involving multiple disconnected tools for product development will not be sufficient to manage these above-mentioned challenges. One needs to look at MBSE based process to address these challenges.

More than before, companies do understand the need for MBSE for product development however, there are certain myths and misunderstandings around MBSE implementation like it is difficult to implement or it involves highly skilled workflow or needs a complete transformation in terms of workflow implementation.

How it’s adoption will help companies solve some of the challenges that you outlined?

MBSE is the perfect solution to all the challenges mentioned above. Model based systems engineering simplifies product complexity by enabling the entire framework of defining requirements to the product delivery on one holistic framework. Due to this, all stakeholders could collaborate using one 3D model as they develop their product. With this approach, leading companies can design, develop, test, prototype, simulate in a virtual environment and verify fit, form, and function to eliminate errors early in the development cycle.

A ‘systems of systems’ approach simplifies engineering complexities between mechanical, electrical, software, and other components using a standard language

Adopting MBSE will bring in a completely new perspective in terms of introducing new methodologies for capturing, depicting, managing information related to the product development process. Henceforth MBSE will become a de facto approach for any product development process and companies will have no choice but to embark on this journey of digital transformation opening the doors for innovation and sustainability.

What makes the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform- the go to platform for MBSE ?

These are 5 key aspects of the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform which makes it invincible for complete end-to-end MBSE implementation

  1. Scalability: As the design becomes more complicated, companies should be able to scale up their design at any stage during the product development process. With the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform, one can simply choose whether to begin with a component-level design and then scale up to more complicated systems or to begin with a complexity requiring systems of system architecture for solution implementation right away.
  2. Digital Federation: The 3DEXPERIENCE platform makes it simple to maintain digital continuity for all of the data used in the process, which might come from a variety of sources and technologies. The platform’s digital thread and digital twin are significant features that can help firms create a digital federation of data connectivity and enable collaboration and traceability.
  3. Authentication at any point in the process: At any step during the process, whether during the requirement gathering phase, architectural definition stage, or detail design phase, the information should be verifiable. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform, along with its specific apps, gives this one-of-a-kind power to check data at every level of the design process, reducing design risks as early as possible.
  4. Governance: In any project, it is important to manage the project schedule, timeline, resources, configurations, issue, risk, etc. Hence, governance and life cycle management becomes a critical part of any project execution process.
  5. Openness: To achieve a complete digital continuity it is imperative that MBSE solution offering should have the capability to connect to different tools or solutions. This is where the openness of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform helps integrate different legacy data by supporting standards such as STEP, IGES, FMI, AUTOSAR, REQIF, OSLC, Modelica, etc.

Can you tell us some customer stories who have implemented MBSE approach and achieved commercial success?

I would like to highlight the MBSE Implementation success story of a leading aerospace company based in Bengaluru, India.  The organization’s main objective was to establish end-to-end traceability across the product development process covering requirements, functional architecture, logical design, and physical CAD along with the test and the use cases defined. The main goal of the project was to establish a seamless digital continuity from the aircraft level requirements down to the component design.

Once this digital continuity was established, one could perform quick traceability and impact analysis to understand any changes in artifacts used in the project. For example, if a particular requirement was changed, one could easily identify the impact of the change on architecture, detail design, and other information related to the project.

This knowledge becomes valuable for any aircraft manufacturer, as things keep changing with time like new systems need to be introduced in aircraft due to changes in customer needs or if a particular supplier changes his specifications of the product that was being delivered or the manufacturer makes a change in certain system design. However, establishing digital thread or digital continuity was not the only challenge associated with this MBSE project, managing data from different toolsets, missing or non-existent logical design, and setting up a unified workflow process for implementing MBSE were some of the key challenges associated with the project.

There are some of the notable benefits that the organization reaped:

  1. Reduction in cost and schedule due to the use of simulation models to predict behavior and early identification of risks, thereby mitigating errors early otherwise which usually crop up during integration and testing phases.
  2. Improved productivity due to traceability throughout the workflow and increased interactions across

Want to know how you can solve difficult problems across domains to successfully design and build products using Model based systems engineering enabled by 3DEXPERIENCE platform ?

Read the Implementation Stories