MBSE is transforming aerospace engineering, systems integration

Aerospace organizations are modernizing engineering workflows with model-based systems engineering (MBSE) to remain competitive, as program timelines condense and the pressure to get to market faster increases.
Model-based systems engineering (MBSE) is taking off in aerospace engineering and systems integration workflows worldwide. Editors in SAE International’s Aerospace Product Group had the opportunity to discuss MBSE trends, tools, and benefits, as well as any impediments to adoption and whether MBSE is likely to transform aerospace systems engineering and integration with Dave Shanley, vice president of segment & product marketing management at Jama Software in Portland, Oregon.
SAE International Aerospace Product Group editors are joining Jama Software, OpsHub, and Intercax professionals on November 14, 2018, in the greater Los Angeles area for a free, half-day seminar: “MBSE: Digitally Transforming your Development Process.” Join us: Register online to reserve your seat.


Take part in a free, informative seminar -- MBSE: Digitally Transforming your Development Process -- on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, 8 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Seating is limited, register online today to reserve your seat. 

Why are so many companies, particularly aerospace and defense organizations, moving to MBSE?
There are a several reasons why companies are moving toward adopting MBSE. One of the main reasons is to facilitate understanding and alignment between those defining what is being built with those responsible for designing and implementing a system. For example, a model-based approach to systems design presents a simplified version of a concept or system structure that can be derived from requirements to aid in decision making and examine “what if” scenarios. At the same time, a model-based approach moves teams away from documents and into a digital landscape and can aid in a faster, less expensive development cycle.
This is a topic of interest at every major aerospace and defense contractor because the benefits of it are very enticing. That said, not everyone will incorporate it into their process the same way, and they will do so to varying degrees.
Why is digital transformation such a hot topic right now? What benefits are to be gained from MBSE, digitization/digital transformation?
The sea change in how products are developed, combined with the threat from startups that don’t have legacy hang-ups, has massive implications for how companies will compete in the digitally converged future.
Companies lacking the ability connect strategy to delivery, and balance tradeoffs are forced to participate in fast-moving, highly competitive markets with highly unpredictable results.
As program timelines condense and the pressure to get to market faster increases, older, legacy ways of working can’t hold up. Organizations who want to stay competitive know that modifying and updating how their engineering teams work are critical to success.
For example, in the requirements management process alone, the process of creating and reviewing hundreds of pages of requirements documents can waste valuable engineering time and effort. By digitizing the process with Web-based applications that facilitate process workflow and alignment, teams can shorten review cycles, improve traceability and integrate their requirements process into other solutions that are part of the development process. This allows teams focus their energy on solving the hardest, most complex requirements to systems design.
In short, digital transformation can save time, money, and help deliver a higher-quality product with fewer defects. It enables organizations to bring quality products to market faster, win more contracts, build to customer specifications, and grow their business.
Digital transformation can seem daunting – connecting disparate internal (and potentially external or regional) systems and processes. How can modern tools help ease the transition and optimize the workflow?
We’ve spoken to veteran systems engineers, one at Lockheed Martin specifically, who scoffed at the concept of MBSE being a “new” way of working because “we’ve always worked with models.” So in some ways, systems engineers feel that they’ve always done model-based systems engineering.
Moving toward a modern tool set has some distinct advantages. Oftentimes, legacy systems are viewed as legacy because they haven’t adapted to how people want to work in the 21st century. People want usable tools with a modern interface, people want to be able to view their tasks in the context of what they are being asked to build, teams want to be able to collaborate around work and have record of decisions and results throughout the process.
Systems engineers have the possibility to use tools that work the way they want to, connect to the tools in their ecosystem to gain context around what they are building (for example, viewing a model in the context of their requirements), ask questions and receive answers in the tool, and understand change as it happens. By creating a standardized process and workflow that can integrate into their broader ecosystem, teams achieve traceability throughout their development process and take advantage of reuse when kicking of new versions of previously built solutions.
Digital transformation is happening, and in the best case scenario, it makes people’s everyday work lives easier and makes information about what is being built and why more easily available. 
How can executives, engineers, and systems integrators get started with MBSE? Where can they turn for solutions? Do you have any advice or recommendations for them?
MBSE is not going to turn their world upside down, but it should aid in designing and developing complex systems in a shorter time, under budget, and with less errors because it is an integrated tool set that allows people all across the V-model, for example, a way to gain alignment around what they are building and why. A company like Intercax is a great resource because they have helped companies transition to MBSE and also write very thoughtfully on the topic. Also, NDIA and INCOSE hold seminars and workshops on MBSE at pretty much every regional, national, or global event these days because it is such a hot topic.
What role does Jama Software play in MBSE?
Jama is not a SysML tool, however, through our integrations to SysML tools, we connect their requirements to their models. It helps to provide them the context to understand why something is built like it is, facilitate conversations to find solutions to the complex design challenges they confront throughout the process, and communicate and gain alignment/understanding around change as it happens.

jamaThanks to Dave Shanley, vice president of segment & product marketing management at Jama Software in Portland, Oregon, for information and insights. 

Jama Software brings analytics, solutions, and insights to companies creating complex products and mission-critical software systems. With expanded product and service capabilities, the Jama Product Development Platform empowers large enterprises to accelerate development time, mitigate risk, slash complexity, and verify regulatory compliance.

Representing the forefront of modern development, its rapidly growing customer base of more than 600 organizations — including SpaceX, NASA, Thales and Caterpillar — use Jama Software to streamline processes and bring complex products to market. Through Predictive Product Development, Jama equips its customers to make the most of their revenue potential and achieve ongoing competitive advantages. More information is available online at jamasoftware.com


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Working on aerospace systems and platforms? Wrestling with challenges? Have aerospace wisdom to share for the greater good of the industry? You're invited to get involved with SAE International -- contact courtney.howard@sae.org to contribute and add your voice to the growing body of knowledge. 
Courtney E. Howard is editorial director and content strategist at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group. Contact her by e-mail at courtney.howard@sae.org

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