If you are a systems engineer or a stakeholder involved in the development of complex systems, you might have heard of MBSE, or Model-Based Systems Engineering. But what is MBSE exactly, and why should you use it over traditional methods? In this blog post, we explore what MBSE is and explore three key benefits for adopting MBSE practices in your organisation.
What is Model-Based Systems Engineering?
To explore MBSE let’s first understand what Systems Engineering is in general. Systems Engineering looks at the big picture of a system of interest – what the system needs to do and how the system interacts with people and other systems to achieve its objective. This is achieved by the system’s requirements, structure and behaviour into a set of blueprints that define the system architecture. That system architecture is then analyzed to confirm the design decisions made in the process. Once those decisions are agreed, the system architecture is then used to define the specifications for each of the parts required to develop the complete system. Those sub system specifications in turn inform the development of those parts – they would inform the creation of the 3D CAD models of the structures, the behaviour and logic implemented as software, and the tasks in a process that humans need to perform. Once those parts are implemented, they are individually tested to verify that what was built is in accordance with those sub system specifications. Those parts then come together to perform integration testing to verify it against the system specification. Finally, the completed system is tested as a whole, to validate its as-built behaviour against its intended requirements for final delivery to the customer.
MBSE uses a formalized methodology to achieve the same objective through the creation of system models that define the requirements, design, analysis, verification and validation activities associated with complex system development. The model becomes a formal representation of the system’s architecture that can be queried and analysed computationally, and from which the blueprints can be drawn upon using the interconnected artifacts contained within the model.
Why choose MBSE over traditional Systems Engineering methods?
MBSE provides a very precise way to define requirements, functional flows, system blocks and their interfaces. MBSE languages specify a syntax that permits the definition of design concerns using predefined elements, relationships and views; and the processes needed to articulate each of the system design concerns in a consistent way. This precision and consistency enable a system design to scale up to the level needed to design, analyse and verify highly complex systems without missing any details. This is an important consideration in circumstances where a system’s development is driven by regulatory directives and compliance requirements.
MBSE methods provide a standardised way of working. International standards organizations such as ISO, the International Council of Systems Engineers, and the Object Management Group all define a suite of standard MBSE methods and languages that can be adopted into practice. MBSE models that are developed using standardised methods can be developed and used in a consistent manner across project teams, international partners, OEMs, suppliers and primes, and of course with customers and consumers. Standardised MBSE methods have the support of an international network of certified trainers, practitioners and tool vendors. Adopting standards-based MBSE methods ensures a guaranteed talent pipeline of skilled practitioners and negates the need for an organisation to invest time and money reinventing capability from the ground up.
Traceability using Digital Thread
MBSE models that are created using standardised methods become the System Digital Twin of your product. This digital twin can then be integrated into other engineering workflows and systems to be linked to other development data, thus creating a Digital Thread for your product that connects the requirements to functional designs through to the detailed designs, production work records, to verification records and delivery certificates, and finally, to the system’s operational and maintenance data. The traditional systems engineering approach would have all of this valuable information locked up in documents, and not embedded within Product Lifecycle Management solution.
MBSE is a paradigm shift in the way we design and develop complex systems. It is an approach that uses models as the primary means of communication and collaboration among stakeholders, engineers and analysts throughout the system lifecycle. MBSE will play a key role over the coming decade where we can expect to see increased stakeholder scrutiny over the development of solutions that don’t just meet functional or regulatory requirements, but that they also meet the affordability and sustainability requirements that place a very important societal and environmental lens over any new system.
An organisation looking to adopt or expand their MBSE capability needs the assistance of expert practitioners, engineers and trainers such as MEMKO. Our ‘mbse pathway2success’ portfolio includes tools, methods and services to support their MBSE adoption journey; so that they – in turn – can get the most out of their investment in MBSE to deliver high-tech and innovative solutions to their customers.
Learn more about MBSE with our expert’s sharing his insights in MEMKO’s latest video on MEMKO’s YouTube channel.
Sam is Director of Systems Engineering at MEMKO. He has over 25 years’ experience as a cyber systems expert, ranging from digital transformation, IT systems development, software engineering and technology portfolio management.
Sam is an expert in Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) and Enterprise Architecture, helping customers adopt industry standards and best practices to deliver sustainable competitive advantage in a wide range of industries including Defence, Government, Telecommunications and Maritime within Australia and North America.
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