Any time Ilan and I have an opportunity to get together with Ed Ladzinski and Frank Popielas of SMS_ThinkTank, we know it’s going to be a good day. That’s why we leapt at the opportunity to co-host a webinar with them on one of the most powerful emerging technologies in digital engineering – model-based systems engineering (MBSE).

MBSE is quickly becoming a “must-have ” in aerospace and defense, rail and automotive, manufacturing, heavy equipment and many other industries because it enables real-time communication and collaboration, enabling companies to innovate at the speed of design. Moreover, MBSE helps systems engineering identify potential errors and make improvements earlier in the design process for increased efficiency and cost savings. 

A strong foundation, especially when it comes to requirements, is critical for any successful systems engineering project, but this is especially true for MBSE. During our recent webinar, we took a deep dive into the components of a strong MBSE strategy, as well as best practices for using it to create a digital thread within your organization.

The full replay is available for download here, but read on to discover some of my top takeaways.

Learning From the MBSE Experts: SMS_ThinkTank

SMS_ThinkTank is renowned for its expertise in systems engineering and MBSE. With a deep understanding of the complexities involved in modern engineering projects, SMS_ThinkTank offers comprehensive solutions and guidance to organizations seeking to optimize their systems engineering processes. 

As pioneers in the field of MBSE, SMS_ThinkTank is at the forefront of driving innovation and best practices in this rapidly evolving domain. Leveraging advanced modeling techniques and cutting-edge tools, they help organizations transition from traditional document-centric approaches to more efficient and collaborative MBSE methodologies. Another thing we appreciate about SMS_ThinkTank is that one of its greatest strengths lies in their ability to tailor solutions to meet the unique needs and objectives of each client – something we take great pride in doing here at xLM as well.

Knowing this, Ilan and I were thrilled when the opportunity arose to co-host a webinar with Edward and Frank. We take pride in keeping a pulse on emerging technologies that help our customers work smarter and more efficiently, and MBSE definitely has a huge potential to do just that. 

Driving Digital Transformation with MBSE

Although our webinar largely approached MBSE from a technical perspective, it’s important first understand why businesses are embracing the technology. As Frank explained, the answer to that has a lot to do with our ever-evolving landscape, which is marked by interconnectedness and technological advances. As practitioners, we grapple with escalating complexities in engineering, coupled with challenges in communication and adaptation to digitalization. The demand for faster access to data and collaboration underscores the necessity for transformative initiatives like MBSE.

In examining engineering trends, it’s evident that products and ecosystems are becoming increasingly intricate, necessitating upfront consideration of factors like regulatory compliance and quality assurance. Whether it’s in the transportation industry with advancements like electrification and autonomous driving, or in healthcare with personalized medicine, the common thread is complexity—both in system design and embedded software. 

Businesses are thus compelled to adopt comprehensive approaches like MBSE to navigate these complexities effectively, ensuring robust designs and timely market delivery. By integrating MBSE into your development processes, you can pave the way for sustainable innovation and address the critical challenges posed by today’s dynamic business environment.

No MBSE Implementation is One-Size-Fits-All

Another point that resonated with me is that it’s one thing to understand the basics of MBSE, but quite another to apply it to your unique organization. Frank compared MBSE implementation to fingerprints – each one is different, yet have some things in common. 

The driving forces behind MBSE adoption are one example. Most companies, regardless of industry, want to accelerate innovation, reduce product costs and bring reliable, cost-effective solutions to market as quickly as possible. Implementing a good MBSE solution will foster this, although the prerequisites for a successful implementation are critical. The process for implementing MBSE is going to be different for every business, but all MBSE projects require changes in organization, process and technology that must be understood. Proper planning and broad support are also essential. 

Frank walked us through the V-model, also known as the Verification and Validation model in systems engineering and software development, to provide a visual representation of a development lifecycle. We explored the V-model through an MBSE lens and discussed why businesses must take a tailored approach based on their ideal processes and best practices.   

Note: We return to the V-Model and Dassault Systemes’ approach to it at the end of the presentation.

Requirements Considerations in MBSE

Later in the webinar, Ed guided us through a high-level overview of requirements/fundamentals for MBSE. The importance of requirements cannot be understated and there are a lot of different factors to take into consideration. He also shared the cartoon below which, although funny in this context, is unfortunately how many companies approach requirements in the MBSE engineering journey.

As you likely know, system requirements are critical in all types of systems engineering, serving as the cornerstone for integrating and verifying activities across diverse engineering disciplines. They not only guide integration, but also act as benchmarks for validation and stakeholder approval. They also offer a roadmap for field application and help assess the ramifications of any changes when properly linked and traced. 

As you’ll discover in the webinar, there are a lot of different types of requirements to plan for when implementing MBSE. Functional, performance and usability requirements are a few of the obvious ones, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Although this might seem a little overwhelming, I like Ed’s advice: Pick the ones that are right for your organization and engineering community. The goal is to adhere to the best systems engineering practices while also ensuring simplicity for your departments. 

Leveraging MBSE Data in PLM Environments

Ed and Frank are leading experts in MBSE strategy and implementation, and that’s a great complement to what we do here at xLM because our role is to then take that data (e.g. MBSE data such as Requirements, Functions, Physical Data, etc.) and determine how to best manage it within a PLM system. This will allow us to build traceability and create a digital thread across the data. One of the PLM systems we work very closely to allow such behaviors with is Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

Similarly to Frank’s V-model, Dassault has its own vision of the V diagram, beginning with requirements and progressing through functions, logical design, engineering items, CAD, physical structure, manufacturing Bill of Materials (mBOM), and extending to manufacturing processes and simulation.

Key to this integration is the centrality of requirements throughout the product development lifecycle. Dassault’s solution offers two flavors for managing requirements: an enterprise web-based solution and a thick client known as CATIA Magic.

To learn more about using Dassault’s suite of solutions for MBSE modeling, I highly suggest tuning into the webinar and getting in touch for a one-on-one conversation. Thank you, Edward and Frank, for sharing your insights with us. If anyone is interested in learning more about MBSE or deploying the technology, I highly recommend getting in touch with them.


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