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Why Closed Loop Systems Engineering Works Best in Today's Hyper-Connected Environment

 
May 13, 2016

Integrating PLM with closed loop systems engineering is an imperative for collaboration across the value chain with increasing product complexity.

Whether it is a car, aircraft, washing machine, toaster, or traffic signaling system, smart and connected products are the reality of the future. Gartner estimates that globally 6.4 billion connected things will be in use this year, a 30 percent rise from last year, and will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. While smart products are designed to make our lives simpler, the products themselves are quite complex. They combine sensors, microprocessors, and software in various ways to ensure inter-connectivity and seamless device-to-device interaction. This inter-dependency makes product engineering an exponentially complex process. To add to this, the recent mushrooming of startups has put manufacturers under relentless pressure to deliver products faster, at competitive prices, without compromising on quality.

Designing successful products in this hyperconnected world requires an integrated approach to product development one that integrates mechanical, electrical, and software engineering disciplines together, resulting in a multi-disciplinary product development process.

Take the next step: Integrate closed loop systems engineering with PLM.

In an ever-expanding interconnected ecosystem, a small change or defect in one part can have major impact or repercussions on other components, magnifying risks and potentially leading to a drastic system failure. It is, therefore, crucial to understanding how all parts of a system interact and work together, right at the start of product engineering.

Traditional product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions are point solutions that do not consider information across different design domains and subsystems. Typically, businesses adopt a siloed approach to PLM that does not include software engineering at the design stage, resulting in interoperability issues, cost and effort overruns, and suboptimal quality. Now imagine how easy it would be to make informed decisions if you had complete visibility into engineering information across all your systems and design domains, and throughout the development lifecycle.

Implementing a closed loop systems engineering environment can help make this a reality by infusing systems engineering principles into PLM, thus enabling an integrated multi-disciplinary approach. It will allow you to adopt a design approach that is driven by requirements across different design domains while maintaining traceability across systems mechanical, electronic, or software. Seamless integration between these engineering disciplines helps you identify, define, and manage the functional and behavioral attributes of all components, and their interdependency. This will allow you to design products in the context of the operation of the entire system across the development lifecycle, rather than as individual systems that will have to be integrated toward the end of the development process. From requirements management to in-service management, it allows teams to collaborate in near real-time, and ensures complete traceability of design decisions, accelerating change management, thereby optimizing the cost and effort involved.

See how the automotive industry is using closed loop systems engineering to improve outcomes.

The automotive sector has been a frontrunner in using the closed loop approach. Heres why.

From infotainment and navigation to smart media systems and cross-connected apps, cars across all segments are being loaded with increasingly sophisticated features and components to meet customers growing safety and lifestyle demands. Leading car manufacturers like Mercedes and Volkswagen are also showcasing concept cars that are set to make Autonomous cars a reality. These highly complex products rely on the successful interplay of different subsystems, making closed loop systems engineering an imperative.

Take the case of Volvo. After Chinas Geely Automobile bought Volvo in 2010, it established an advanced PLM system with integrated systems engineering. This allows them to seamlessly simulate and validate the integration and functioning of electrical, electronics, and software components to create efficient and fast designs. In another development, 20 leading automakers have committed to making automatic emergency braking (AEB) a standard safety feature for new cars according to an announcement by The US Department of Transportations National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The goal is to prevent or reduce the impact of a crash by sensing the surrounding environment and drivers response, and automatically applying brakes. Imagine if the sensors in cameras or radars fail to adequately detect the impending crash the AEB system will not trigger automatic braking. In this case, although the AEB system is not defective, it will fail to deliver. Here lies the importance of adopting interdisciplinary development capabilities that can integrate all of the components into a unified environment to ensure smooth interoperability and exchange of data.

Power next-generation products with systems-driven product development.

As we make our way toward smart cities, infrastructure, and consumer durables, manufacturers need to deliver the right products that drive intuitive and smart experiences. The only way to do this is to be innovative, quick, and efficient by incorporating insights from across the product development lifecycle. Integrating PLM with closed loop systems engineering can help you tap into data, improve collaboration, and accelerate product development to effectively meet the requirements of an uber-connected world.

For more insights about closed loop systems engineering in connected digital enterprises visit our site. Meet us at Siemens PLM Connection 2017where TCS is participating as a premium sponsor.

Ashok Natarajan is Head of PLM Presales in the Engineering & Industrial Services (EIS) business unit at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). He has close to 19 years of experience, of which nearly 16 years have been in the CAD/PLM industry. Ashok is responsible for evangelizing TCS' portfolio of PLM solutions and services to address unique customer challenges across industries. He started his career as a product designer in the automotive industry and has held various roles thereafter such as Presales Manager, PLM business consultant and Industry Solutions Consultant, before his current role. Ashok holds a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore, India.