Delivering Business Value from Data Continuity, Model-Based System Engineering and Digitalization: Why We Need Integration Standards

How mature and robust is the digital thread in your organization? How are industries addressing the long-lasting requirement for enterprise integration, and is it getting easier or just more complex? (Image credit: PEXEL.)

How mature and robust is the digital thread in your organization? How are industries addressing the long-lasting requirement for enterprise integration, and is it getting easier or just more complex? (Image credit: PEXEL.)

Several OEM presentations from this year’s CIMdata PLM Roadmap and PTD 2020 conference highlighted industry feedback on what matters most to businesses. These can be grouped into some core PLM themes—from complex product development to multi-view bills of material that enable systems engineering V-model, from supply chain collaboration to data management and integration standards. Most of these themes are not new but rather a standing agenda from previous CIMdata conferences. 

Interesting industry perspectives were presented with speakers from the aerospace, defense and maritime industries highlighting practical project results and feedback.

To illustrate the point above, let’s take a quick look at previous conference headlines, which are still accessible on CIMdata’s website. Do you notice a common thread that is very much relevant to the practice of PLM across industries?

  • 2019 Europe and North America: PLM for Professionals—Product Lifecycle Innovation
  • 2018 Europe: Digitalizing Reality—PLM’s Role in Enabling the Digital Revolution
  • 2018 North America: Charting the Course to PLM Value Together—Expanding the Value Footprint of PLM and Tackling PLM’s Persistent Pain Points

Furthermore, the agenda from the 2017 conference referred to the very same critical topics, with a noticeable aerospace and defense footprint that was common to other past conferences with CIMdata (referring to the firm’s website):

  • PLM: A Key Enabler for Digitalization
  • Digitalization and the Internet of Things
  • Meeting the Demands of Social and Analytics on PLM to Deliver New Business Value
  • Multi-View Bill of Material—A Collaboration Between Business OEMs to Harmonize the Process and PLM Solution for Multi-View BOM Management
  • PLM, Industry 4.0, and Digitalization
  • The Digital Thread for Aerospace and Defense: What are We Certifying with Regulators Using Model-Based Definition?
  • High Volume Global Collaboration with Fully Automated ITAR Compliance on a Strategic Weapon System
  • Integrating PLM with Other Enterprise Domain Solutions to Support Digitalization

Comparing the 2020 agenda with the 2016 agenda (see below), there has clearly been a shift from business domain discussions to a more holistic and transversal end-to-end integration and traceability theme:

  • Materials engineering and its impact on all lifecycle phases need to be understood and enabled.
  • New manufacturing technologies, such as 3D printing, must be adopted as well as the optimization of new products and associated manufacturing and service processes.
  • Software development must be managed as part of the overall product development process, instead of as a side effort.
  • Collaboration must evolve to mean co-development across the supply chain, from ideation to retirement. To support enhanced collaboration, practitioners are turning to model-based systems engineering.
  • Simulation and analysis must be used early and often in the product definition process, not just to simulate the product but also the processes.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) and other emerging technology enablers and how these are being incorporated into go forward strategies.

This year’s agenda was rich in return on experience with practical content, some of which is illustrated below.

Complex Product Development and Multi-View BOM 

Erik Herzog, technical fellow – systems engineering with Saab Aeronautics, highlighted that too often the digital thread does not deliver on its promise because it relies on “lots of switching between poorly integrated tools,” typically putting the patience of end users to the test. His presentation also suggested the need to link “model integration and system simulation” to “usage, needs and architecture”—or, in other words, how to manage product requirement validation. 

The need for attention to detail is often at the forefront when dealing with multidisciplinary and complex solutions. This translates into process and collaboration across requirement management, configuration item structure (aka configured BOMs), change control and realization structure—the four core dimensions of design traceability as rightly expressed by Herzog.

Putting the thread into practice: following the NPI process to maximize value creation and simplify how people work. (Image credit: extract from the presentation by Erik Herzog, CIMdata’s PLM Roadmap and PDT 2020.)

Putting the thread into practice: following the NPI process to maximize value creation and simplify how people work. (Image credit: extract from the presentation by Erik Herzog, CIMdata’s PLM Roadmap and PDT 2020.)

The CIMdata Aerospace and Defense PLM Action Group presented a follow-up perspective on Multi-view BOM Solution Evaluation Benchmarks—Process, Results, and Industry Impacts. Javier Reinés, configuration management expert with Airbus, and Dan Ganser, PLM staff scientist with Gulfstream Aerospace, presented the latest findings from a use case comparison between multiple mainstream PLM vendors. The scope related to basic engineering and manufacturing changes as the BOMs mature across the product lifecycle. 

It is great to see such detailed results made public as first, they contribute to validating a number of key business use cases in the world of complex product development, bringing together experts from multiple organizations (see Multi-view Bill of Materials on CIMdata website); and second, they inform on how well such use cases have been demonstrated with out-of-the-box PLM platforms. Some concerns were raised across all focus areas, especially engineering release, supplier collaboration and engineering-to-manufacturing change. These topics clearly provide an opportunity for vendors to respond with “best practice” processes and consider these requirements in their future development roadmaps.

Enabling MBSE, V&V-Model and Digital Twin Standards

Systems engineering, an element of the wider model-based systems engineering (MBSE) practice, is all about data traceability and system validation to requirements and to design, both in the virtual and physical worlds. 

The MBSE diamond as defined by the Boeing Company. (Image credit: extract from the presentation by Jeff Plant, CIMdata’s PLM Roadmap and PDT 2020.)

The MBSE diamond as defined by the Boeing Company. (Image credit: extract from the presentation by Jeff Plant, CIMdata’s PLM Roadmap and PDT 2020.)

MBSE is typically represented as the verification and validation (V&V) model or as a “diamond” shape, as nicely put by Boeing. We have seen this model many times over the years and it is also often referred to in CIMdata presentations. Jeff Plant, director of engineering practices, processes and tools with Boeing, presented Boeing’s work over the years to define and embrace the MBSE approach, in a quest of standardization and adoption democratization. For example, one of many standards: the ISO 23247—a digital twin manufacturing framework.

Plant discussed the Boing standards strategy and how to define a clear “standard” set of interfaces to streamline the type of information flowing throughout an enterprise and its digital platforms across product design (PLM), supply chain management (ERP) and manufacturing operation (MOM). 

Boeing standards strategy across the PLM-ERP-MOM stack. (Image credit: extract from the presentation by Jeff Plant, CIMdata’s PLM Roadmap and PDT 2020.)

Boeing standards strategy across the PLM-ERP-MOM stack. (Image credit: extract from the presentation by Jeff Plant, CIMdata’s PLM Roadmap and PDT 2020.)

Adding the customer perspective with customer relationship management (CRM) to the PLM-ERP-MES/MOM (manufacturing execution systems, manufacturing operations management) mix certainly constitutes the four cornerstones of manufacturing, such as “PLM knows what (technical requirements), ERP knows why (strategic requirements), MES knows how to (operational requirements), and CRM knows who (customer requirements).”

Furthermore, on the topic of standards, other speakers presented interesting industry use cases and perspectives related to requirements management and supplier collaboration, respectively, with Brandon Sapp from Boeing, Ian Parent from Pratt & Whitney Canada, and Kathryn Bell from Pratt & Whitney Canada. 

MBSE data interoperability and standards roadmap. (Image credit: extract from the presentation by the CIMdata Aerospace and Defense PLM Action Group, CIMdata’s PLM Roadmap and PDT 2020.)

MBSE data interoperability and standards roadmap. (Image credit: extract from the presentation by the CIMdata Aerospace and Defense PLM Action Group, CIMdata’s PLM Roadmap and PDT 2020.)

In addition, the CIMdata Aerospace and Defense PLM Action Group highlighted the ongoing MBSE standards development roadmap and some business use cases in the context of integrating requirements, architecture and behavior models across the supply chain. The need to exploit “data linkages” with standards such as Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration (OSLC) was mentioned as the link to master data at the source and a resulting reduction in duplication by leveraging modern integration API (to be continued).

One thing that was missing from the conference was people. For example, how do people learn, adapt and grow from implementing such solutions—even if only partially? It is of course more difficult to publicly reflect on learning that relates to real-life project challenges, for example, when not delivering upon expected outcomes from industrial implementations.

To conclude, it was a robust conference with limited “selling” and a lot of practical feedback to reflect upon. And until the next one, we ought to ask ourselves:

  • Has PLM evolved (and how has it done so) over the past 4-5 years?
  • During that time frame, how has MBSE evolved? Is it mature enough to go beyond requirements management and into the world of architecture models?
  • Similarly, what has digitalization brought to both PLM and MDSE, and vice versa? 
  • How is digitalization likely to continue to evolve in the coming years?
  • What is happening in other industries? Is the thinking different based on the industry’s digital maturity?
  • What industry lessons learned can be shared and implemented to avoid getting lost in digital transformation?
  • Would there be transferable learning, standards, methods, and so on, from one industry to another? 
  • What about the PLM professional in all of this? Are there changing skills, business vs technical perspectives, and adaptation to changing working practices and behaviors?