MBSE or Model Based Systems Engineering is currently the buzz-word within the systems engineering community; and rightfully so! MBSE system models (e.g. SysML) add the ability to have an “authoritative source of truth” to track the state of a system or product throughout its lifecycle – requirements, structure, behavior, and key parameter values. Compared to the traditional “document” based method of systems engineering – using Word, PowerPoint, or Excel files, this is a long overdue leap in capability for systems engineers.
However, as a systems engineer recently said to me, “Although this is a leap forward in capability, there is nothing ‘sexy’ about tracking requirements. The real excitement comes when we can tie engineering analysis models to the systems models. That is when we can truly make decisions.”
Why is that?
Although MBSE offers tremendous value, SysML models alone are primarily about describing the system – not analyzing it. The real value comes when MBSE systems models are coupled with analysis models, such as those created using HyperWorks. ModelCenter from Phoenix Integration provides the ability to bi-directionally connect system engineering models to any engineering model. The value is that during conceptual design (i.e. proposal writing), your company can incorporate real engineering and cost analysis earlier in the design process – validating requirements and optimizing the system design. This significantly improves the chances of winning projects, reducing costs and timelines, etc. Performance vs. Cost trade-offs can be reviewed to ensure that you can meet your customer’s requirements and find the “knee in the curve“. Ideally, it allows you to upsell to your customer (small cost increase, but significant performance increase), allowing you to differentiate from your competitors.
MaaS – Model as a Service
ModelCenter supports MaaS (Model as a Service), allowing systems engineers to securely access mature workflows (models) across their organization and even into their company’s supply chain while respecting everyone’s Intellectual Property (IP). With MaaS, the workflows and engineering details (IP) stay with the engineering experts and run locally – only parameters are passed in, and only selected results are passed back to the system engineering level. The domain experts retain control of the engineering models and can provide constraints to ensure that the models are used within proper bounds.
As complex systems rely more and more on their supply chain (both internally within your company and externally via your supply chain), it is becoming more and more important to include your team’s expertise in your solution. Knowing the effects of a change early can greatly improve your chances of winning a proposal and keep your costs under control.
So why is all of this important? Adding all of these capabilities together allows a company to perform MDAO (Multi-Disciplinary Analysis and Optimization), which provides systems engineers and domain experts the ability to optimize a design using high fidelity engineering analysis prior to any metal being cut. This shortens the design cycle and allows your company to get the design right the first time…and win more projects! As a system engineer or project leader, imagine not only having your system described via a comprehensive MBSE systems model, but also having ready access to the analysis models that your team is already creating – all integrated together. With MBSE systems models integrated with your analysis models, your ability to make decisions about your product design would be limitless. You would no longer have to be satisfied with your best guesses.
Need some proof?… Check out some of the work presented at the Phoenix Integration’s 2018 User’s Conference. Here you will find many presentations from organizations that are already using and achieving success with this methodology. These presentations show the real potential of MBSE when systems models are integrated with analytical models for complex system design.
Another great source of information is the Stevens Institute Systems Engineering Research Center (SERC), where they have worked with both the U.S. Navy Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center (ARDEC) on Transforming Systems Engineering through Model-Centric Engineering.
The Coda – How does it work?
ModelCenter sits at the hub of the MBSE integration solution and offers a graphical interface and workflow engine that allows users to automate and integrate any engineering tool — connecting domain expert engineering and financial models with systems models (MBSE). ModelCenter MBSEPAK provides the bridge between the systems engineering models and the analytical models.
Phoenix Integration is a proud member of the Altair Partner Alliance, and ModelCenter and HyperWorks work together to provide you with the best value in engineering analysis and design.
This guest post on the Altair Blog is written by Scott Ragon, Director of Technical Business Development at Phoenix Integration, developer of model-based engineering software, ModelCenter®. Phoenix Integration is a member of the Altair Partner Alliance.