Systems modeling, “systems thinking” and systems-driven engineering are topics of frequent discussion among professionals engaged in the engineering of many discretely manufactured products today. But how many engineering organizations have actually succeeded in implementing a consistent, sustained culture of simulation-led engineering practices grounded in system-level physical modeling and simulation software technology? And how did they do it?
We recently executed a research project to investigate the contemporary state of adoption and application of systems modeling software technologies, and their attendant methods and work processes, in the engineering design of off-highway (principally agricultural and construction) equipment and mining machinery. We conducted in-depth, structured but open-ended interviews with some half-dozen expert practitioners at leading manufacturers, including both engineering management and senior discipline leads.
Through this methodology, we identified key technological as well as business and competitive factors driving adoption and use of these tools and methods at today’s levels:
- Fuel economy and emissions mandates, powertrain electrification and autonomous operation requirements
- Software’s ability to drive down product cost of ownership and delivery times
- Traditional development processes often fail to surface system-level issues until fabrication or assembly, or even until operational deployment
- Detailed analysis tools such as FEA and CFD focus on behaviors at the component level, and are not optimal for studies of the complete system
- Engineering departments/groups enjoy greater freedom in systems modeling software selection and purchase decisions than in enterprise-controlled CAD/PDM/PLM decisions
- Good C/VP-level visibility of systems modeling tools, especially in off-highway equipment
Next week: Adoption constraints.