System-level physical modeling and simulation: Adoption constraints

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. Yet comparatively few engineering organizations have succeeded in implementing a consistent, sustained culture of simulation-led engineering practices grounded in system-level physical modeling and simulation software technology.

Last week we described our research project to investigate the contemporary state of adoption and application of systems modeling technologies and work processes in the engineering design of off-highway equipment and mining machinery. And last week’s brief detailed what our research found to be key factors driving adoption at today’s levels.

Adoption constraints

Nonetheless, we found widespread agreement among all the experts interviewed that systems modeling tools and methods are not being brought to bear with anywhere near the breadth or depth that practitioner advocates would like, and that they believe would be greatly beneficial to their organizations and industries.

In probing why this is, we uncovered an array of factors constraining broader adoption at present. These range from legacy engineering culture issues, through human resource limitations and constraints imposed by business models and corporate cultures, to entrenched shortcomings in how long-established systems modeling software toolsets have been deployed and applied to the product development process:

  • Legacy engineering culture constraints
    • Conservatism of mining machinery product development culture
    • Engineering practices in long-standardized industries grounded in handbook formulas and rules of thumb
    • Perceived lack of time in schedule to do systems modeling
  • Human resource constraints
    • Low availability of engineers with systems modeling skills
    • Shortage of engineers trained in systems thinking
    • Legacy engineering processes compound shortage of systems-thinking engineers
    • Industry downturns put constraints on professional staff development
  • Business-model and corporate-culture constraints
    • Culture of seeking to mitigate cost and risk by staying with legacy designs instead of advancing and innovating the product
    • Corporate awareness of need to innovate in mining machinery gets stifled at engineering level
    • Low C/VP-level visibility of systems modeling tools in mining machinery
  • Engineering organization constraints on innovating/modernizing their systems modeling technology infrastructure
    • Power users wedded to legacy systems modeling tools
    • Weak integration at many/most points of the engineering digital toolset chain
    • Implementing systems modeling software as a sales configuration/costing aid seen as taking too much time

Next week: Potential adoption accelerators.

Access the full white paper reporting our findings here.