Tap into the Value of the Connected MBSE and PLM Tool Chain

Written by: Hedley Apperly

Connecting systems and product engineering tool data can deliver tremendous benefits when designing and building smart connected products.  A connected tool chain enables organizations to increase productivity and quality, using system models as a starting point for product lifecycle management (PLM) part structures, options and variants. Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) to PLM traceability then extends these benefits to provide impact analysis for changes in both PLM parts and changes in system-level requirements or design. Read on to understand what makes this possible.


Evolving to interdisciplinary systems engineering

Because of the rise of smart, connected products, manufacturers can no longer focus on discrete products. Instead, they need to consider whole systems. All of this means interdisciplinary systems engineering and ‘system-of-system design optimization’ are crucial.

As part of that, engineers must now move faster, communicate better, architect for modularity and product lines, deliver incrementally, and involve stakeholders throughout the project.

And they must do so in an environment where:

  • Teams are larger and more distributed
  • Waterfall and v-models are being augmented with Agile and incremental approaches
  • Goal-based metrics are replacing activity-based metrics
  • Standards are being defined and applied
  • Model-based approaches are rapidly replacing document-based ones


Combining the power of MBSE and PLM

It’s no wonder more and more organizations are combining model-based systems engineering (MBSE) and PLM. While PLM enables organizations to manage the entire product lifecycle, MBSE captures and communicates system requirements and architecture using visual models and standards-based notation to describe complex products and systems. Simply put, taking advantage of productivity data transfer between MBSE and PLM systems can deliver numerous benefits in product and process development activities.


Boosting productivity

By using MBSE, organizations can ensure a better flow of information from their systems models into their PLM systems. Once requirements and needs have been elaborated into system functions, it’s possible to design a linked system structure that includes all system-level parts, variations and options.

It’s then quite simple to reuse these system designs from the central MBSE database and transfer this information – to create configurable parts and a bill of materials (BOM) – in the PLM system accompanied with a full export log for auditing purposes. This ensures consistency of names, terms and phrases between the two systems, reduces errors, and saves hours or even days associated with retyping information.

Improving traceability

Because the MBSE model links to requirements, structures, variants, and more, organizations can trace back to all source detail – including the system design and structure – directly from their PLM system. Plus, it’s possible to conduct an impact analysis, such as when parts change, to determine if the design still satisfies the original requirements. Or vice versa: if requirements change, developers can assess whether or not the parts satisfy the system design. Developers and project managers can even mark items as suspect while determining how changes will impact the product or system.

Advanced applications are available to help manage traces, enabling a seamless connection between MBSE and PLM systems. As a result, developers can view and delete traces directly within their PLM system, and even link to product and system details in the MBSE tool.

Succeeding in the age of Internet of Things

In the IoT world, product-usage data plays a major role in product development and design decisions. Harnessing this data efficiently and consistently is critical to product success. The data transfer between MBSE and PLM is the first step in linking data across the entire tool chain, from requirements, functional models, system and structural models through to parts, the BOM, options and variants.



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Tags: Windchill Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Retail and Consumer Products Connected Devices

About the Author

Hedley Apperly

I am a VP of Solution Management at PTC. I have an HNC in engineering, a 1st class BSc in computing & an MA in strategic marketing. I am an author and visionary on methodologies, modeling and reuse. I am also a member of the OMG Board & OASIS OSLC Core committee. I was involved in writing Component Based Development for Enterprise Systems (1998 Cambridge University Press). I also co-authored Component Based Software Engineering; Putting the Pieces Together (1999, Addison-Wesley) and Service- and Component-based Development; Using the Select Perspective and UML (2002, Addison Wesley.)