Application of Engineering Methods

Methods Engineering is the collaboration of disciplines in engineering and engineering management, focusing on how complex systems are designed and managed throughout their entire life cycle. Systems engineering basically uses principles of systems thinking to organize this knowledge base. The individual result of these efforts, a mature system, can be defined as a combination of components that work together to perform a useful function together.

Application of Engineering Methods

Coverage of the Project as a Whole

The more requirements such as development, logistics, maintenance, design, reliability, implementation options, coordination of multiple interfaces, are linked to a project, the more complex and difficult it becomes to grasp. The engineering software therefore concentrates on such project types and tries to make this complexity more friendly and especially more readable with optimization methods, work processes and risk assessment tools: The engineering methods ensure that all possible perspectives of a project are integrated and seen as a whole.

The process of the engineering methods is a so-called discovery process, which is clearly different from a manufacturing process. A manufacturing process focuses on repetitive activities that produce high quality results at minimal cost and time. The process must begin by identifying the actual problems that need to be solved and by identifying the most likely or most serious errors that will occur. Engineering software includes the search for solutions to these problems.

The concept of Method Engineering

Method Engineering describes only one approach and more recently a discipline in engineering. The goal of Engineering Methods is to formalize different approaches in a simple way and to identify new methods and, if necessary, research opportunities similar to those in other areas of engineering. As an approach, systems engineering is holistic and interdisciplinary.

Traditional engineering includes the conception, design, development, production and operation of physical systems. The originally designed engineering software falls into this area. Systems Engineering, on the other hand, is understood in this sense as the creation of engineering concepts.

Development of terminology

Over time, the use of the term "systems engineer" has developed into a more comprehensive, holistic concept of systems and technical processes. This evolution has been the subject of ongoing controversy and the term continues to be used for both the narrower and the broader range of applications.

Traditional systems engineering was considered a branch of technology in the classical sense, i.e. only for physical systems such as spacecraft and aircraft. More recently, systems engineering has developed to a more comprehensive meaning, especially when man was considered an essential part of a system.

In accordance with the broad spectrum of methods engineering, the system has defined three types of engineering methods:

  1. Product Systems Engineering
  2. Enterprise Systems Engineering
  3. Service Systems Engineering

Holistic view

The engineering methods focus on the analysis and identification of the customer needs and the required functions at the beginning of the development cycle, the documentation of the requirements and the subsequent synthesis and validation of the system taking into account the whole problem and the system life cycle. This includes the complete understanding of all stakeholders involved. The engineering process can be split into a plant engineering process and an engineering process.

The goal of an engineering management process is to organize the technical effort in the life cycle, while the technical process includes the evaluation of available information, the definition of effectiveness measures, the creation of a behavioral model, the creation of a structural model and the execution of compromise analyses. Depending on their application, although there are several models in the industry, they all aim to identify the relationship between the different phases mentioned above and take feedback into account. Examples of such methods are the so-called "Waterfall model" and the "VEE model".

Interdisciplinary field

System development often requires contributions from various technical disciplines. By providing a (holistic) system view of the development effort, Methods Engineering helps to bring all technical staff together into a unified team and to form a structured development process that extends from concept to production to operation and in some cases to termination and disposal. In an acquisition, the holistic integrative discipline combines contributions and balances trade-offs between cost, schedule and performance while maintaining an acceptable level of risk throughout the life cycle of the item.

This view is often repeated in educational programs, with courses in systems engineering taught by faculties from other engineering departments, helping to create an interdisciplinary environment.

Manage complexity

The need for engineering software arose with the increasing complexity of systems and projects, which in turn exponentially increased the possibility of component friction and thus the unreliability of the design.

In this context, complexity does not only include technical systems, but also the logical human organization of data. At the same time, a system can become more complex due to an increase in size as well as an increase in the amount of data, variables or the number of fields involved in the design.

The international space station is an example of such a system. It requires a largely complex system with appropriate engineering methods. The development of intelligent control algorithms, micro-process design and the analysis of environmental systems also fall within the scope of methods engineering: it promotes the use of tools and methods to better understand and manage the complexity of systems. Examples for these tools are:

  • System Architecture
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Optimization
  • System Dynamics
  • Analysis and statistical analysis
  • Reliability Analysis
  • Decision

The interdisciplinary approach of engineering software is complex by nature, since the behavior and interaction between system components is not always immediately clearly defined or understood. Defining and characterizing such systems and subsystems and the interactions between them is one of the goals of engineering methods. In this way, the gap between informal requirements of users, operators, marketing organizations and technical specifications is closed.

Scope of Method Engineering

One way to understand the motivation behind Method Engineering is to view it as a method or practice to identify and improve common rules that exist in a variety of systems. Holistic, emergent behavior, boundary - this can be applied to any complex or other system, provided that systems thinking is applied at all levels. In addition to defense and aerospace, many information and technology-based companies, software development firms and electronics and communications industries require systems engineers as part of their team.

The process of using engineering methodologies includes all the creative, manual and technical activities required to define the product and must be performed to transform a system definition into a sufficiently detailed system design specification for product manufacture and deployment. The design and development of engineering software can be divided into four phases with different definitions:

  • Task definition = informative
  • Conceptual phase = cardinal
  • design phase = formative
  • Implementation phase = production

Engineering methods play an important and diverse role. So a model can be defined in different ways:

  • Abstraction of reality to answer specific questions,
  • Imitation, analog or representation of a process or structure of a real world
  • Conceptual, mathematical or physical tool to support a decision maker

Modeling formalisms and graphical representations

When the primary purpose of a systems engineer is to grasp a complex problem, graphical representations of a system are first used to communicate the functional and data requirements of the system. Common graphical representations include

  • Model-based design
  • Data Flow Diagram
  • Functional sequence Block diagram
  • IDEFO Diagram
  • N2-Diagram
  • Sequence diagram
  • Signal Flow Diagram
  • Frameworks for enterprise architectures
  • Use Case Diagram
  • Model-based systems engineering

Taken together, these definitions are broad enough to include physical construction models used in the verification of a system design, schematic models such as a functional flow block diagram, and mathematical models used in the trade study process.