Systems-level thinking: It's a tried-and-true design principle, still one that engineering groups have long struggled to make a reality and not just a classroom concept.
All you have to do is read through the regular posts and commentary from our readers and it's clear that companies across all industry segments are struggling with how to optimize product development processes so there is clear collaboration and knowledge-sharing across the different functional engineering groups.
While most manufacturers see the value in big-picture, systems-level thinking, the realities and limitations of traditional design tools and existing development processes have kept mechanical, electrical, and software engineering groups tethered to siloed tools and balking at cultural changes that demand more cross-functional cooperation.
That insular mindset is starting to change, thanks to the weight of regulatory and compliance requirements. Companies are starting to demand process changes and new tool capabilities that promote cross-functional collaboration early on in the design process when it's far more cost-effective to make changes. In response to their demands, the design tool vendors are rolling out a spate of new products and integrations.
For example, Siemens PLM Software's recently-released Teamcenter 9
now manages the systems definition of the product and interconnecting relationships as part of the core product model. Many Siemens competitors are also integrating formerly disparate tools in the hopes of achieving that elusive integrated systems view.
Along with new tools, new development processes and best-practices are essential to promoting systems-level thinking. This is perhaps the hardest nut to crack and where engineering groups have had the least success.
If you're interested in getting some well-heeled perspective and practical domain expertise on systems-level thinking, tune into the Design News Radio show Big-Picture Systems Engineering for Successful Product Design on Wednesday, June 27, 2012, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time.
The radio show will feature Mark Sampson, product manager, Requirements and Systems Engineering, at Siemens PLM Software. We'll explore how today's vision of systems engineering is different than in the past, tackle some of the major challenges related to the practice, and drill down into why an integrated systems engineering approach is so critical. We'll also spell out some best-practices along the way.
Click here to register for the program.