Engineering Software Opens the Way for Industry 4.0
Engineering methods and development technologies based on engineering software are the best way to cope with complexity. The use of engineering methods improves the cooperation of product development teams, leads to an increase in product quality and enables an optimal information flow in all phases of the product development process.
Product Lifecycle Management
Automated product lifecycle management (PLM) during product development and in the subsequent lifecycle ensures that a competitive product is produced that meets all requirements and meets customer expectations. An advanced PLM system optimizes development methods and processes, reduces development and production costs, improves product quality and supports the manufacturing company in designing an ecological, economical, socially motivated and sustainable production. Not only innovative software products and IT solutions are required to support the engineering methods, but also rethinking, restructuring and redesigning common development methods, processes and organizational forms of product development.
By using special software and development methods, model-based design and product development processes are possible. An engineering software knows the industry specifics, the product characteristics, the development methods, the properties of the materials and components used, the interrelationships of the components in the overall system, the requirements and the technological specifics of production. The software supports the product design and has the necessary collaboration functions to ensure that the cooperation of the project teams runs smoothly and consistently and that the information in the development process is collected, processed and exchanged in a timely manner. The software uses a knowledge base and provides intelligent assistance in problem analysis and the development of necessary technical solutions.
In the product life cycle, the engineering software serves to continuously increase productivity and provides active support in requirements, change, complexity, quality and knowledge management as well as in product development and new product development. The engineering software and engineering methods provide a common basis for an integrated product development and an efficient interdisciplinary cooperation of different specialist groups, departments and teams.
Development methods using the V-Model
The essential features of a new product are defined and specified in the early design phase of the development process. Incorrect decisions made in the design phase create additional risks and costs. New software and model-based engineering methods help to minimize possible wrong decisions and risks and to improve the product quality over the whole life cycle. A model-based approach to product engineering uses virtual models instead of documents for analysis, specification and design up to the verification and integration of a product to be developed.
The development of complex technical systems is based on engineering methods of Systems Engineering (SE) and is represented by a V-model. The classical V-model originates from software development and describes in its first part the development activities from the product level via the system level to the component level. The typical tasks of this phase of the product development are requirement analysis, draft and Design. The second part of the V-Modell defines the tasks of product validation (tests) and integration.
The guidelines and processes of an approach based on the V-Model are defined in the international standards ISO/IEC 15288 (Life Cycle Management - System Life Cycle Processes) and ISO/IEC 24748-2:2018-2 (Part 2: Guidelines for the Application of ISO/IEC 15288). The generally applicable, industry-independent principles and guidelines for the methodical development and design of technical systems and products are also established by the VDI (Association of German Engineers).
Application of the development methods of Systems Engineering
The development of complex products requires adaptable flexible development processes and advanced engineering methods. The complexity of the development process can best be managed by using development methods of Systems Engineering. Systems Engineering, in turn, requires the use of feature-rich, powerful engineering software.
The overall view of the future product can be visualized by models. This is called Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE). This standard method helps to visualize a product to be developed in its complexity, to understand the interrelationships and to analyze and improve the finished product. This facilitates the creation of concepts as well as the creation and consolidation of functional and technical requirements. The introduction of new development methods based on systems engineering promotes a new structured way of thinking, consolidates and improves teamwork and increases the transparency of work.
Industry 4.0 and digitization
Digitization and new engineering methods provide a solid basis for new production and management processes of a company. Product development using new development methods is a fundamental part of these processes. Production and product development have information in common. Although software-based approaches are always industry-specific and cannot universally meet all individual requirements, they are essential for complex technical products and innovative technologies. Computer-aided design processes and engineering methods based on digital models offer flexibility, visualization and sufficient variation possibilities when selecting an optimal solution. The high efficiency of these processes increases the work performance of designers and engineers.
Smart functions are not only part of the characteristics of an innovative product, but are also characteristic for the technological processes of product development and manufacturing. For the quality of these processes and solutions, information plays an increasingly important role. The tasks are characterized by enormous amounts of data and a high complexity of development projects. These tasks can only be mastered through comprehensive digitization, automation and integration of the business processes. Modern digital product development is seamlessly integrated into company processes, is decisive for the quality of new products and serves as a driver of innovation. It determines an optimal business model and is linked to it. With comprehensive digitization and new development methods, Industry 4.0 is becoming a reality.
Motivation for a software-based approach
The reasons for a software-based approach to product development are the demands for flexible design, adaptability of development and production to the rapidly changing market situation and trends as well as growing customer requirements for product quality and functionality. In product design and development, software not only takes on the role of an effective tool that makes the work of engineers and specialists easier and more efficient, but also provides completely new development methods and modeling technologies. With the help of new software-based engineering methods, limitations of conventional modeling technologies can be overcome and new products with predefined properties can be successfully developed despite time pressure and limited resources.
For the development of mechanical, mechatronic, electronic or even technically neutral products there are different specialized software available, which optimally support the properties of the respective product in model-based approaches of Systems Engineering. The engineering software provides new development methods, increases the quality of development, supports decision and solution finding, reduces technological and design errors by automatic analysis and early error detection. This significantly reduces development time and costs.
A software-supported development process leads to an optimal product design. By using a suitable software product and with the right design techniques, the developers find a better way to solve different problems that have arisen and develop a good product.
Mastering complex development processes
When developing complex technical products and systems, the focus is increasingly shifting to the model-based engineering methods, engineering software, IT technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) used. Not only information is important for product development, but also its optimal organization, structuring, transmission and storage. Even though a product is not a technology-intensive product in terms of its physical properties (no electronic or mechatronic system), its development is a complex knowledge-intensive engineering process. To meet product requirements, improve product quality and reduce production costs, engineers use appropriate engineering software.
An engineering software, combined with a company-wide ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software system, enables a company to view processes and information together, to link them to each other, to design them consistently and to control them automatically and optimally. Engineering software increases the innovation potential of the company and supports the innovation process. Such a path of product development leads directly to Industry 4.0 and is the only right way for every future-oriented innovative company that wants to maintain its leading market position and high product quality with the help of new development methods and technologies.
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