MBSEvolution – Why you shouldn’t miss it

Explore the rise of Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) in the tech industry. From visionary concept to reality, MBSE utilizes graphical models for seamless collaboration. The article underscores the importance of a robust toolchain and outlines steps for companies to embrace the MBSEvolution, enhancing efficiency and team unity.

January 24, 2024 – Reading time: 5 minutes

It’s a reality: While Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) was once considered a visionary buzzword, the demand for it has significantly increased. The technology industry is keen on realizing MBSE. Through projects in the automotive context and various other sectors, we have gained valuable insights into the current state and the extent to which MBSE is already a reality. In some cases, customers have tried to switch to MBSE in their development. And in other situations, engineers were sure that they were already developing model-based.

Many companies have no precise or even a false idea of how to achieve model-based development in their company. For all those who want to develop even more progressively and efficiently; For those who want to handle high complex systems economically and reasonably; For all those who want to achieve MBSE in their development: here are our insights.

MBSE in a nutshell

MBSE represents a groundbreaking approach in system development. Instead of conventional documentation, MBSE relies on comprehensive graphical models serving as a central source of information. This enables seamless collaboration and communication among different teams in the development of complex systems—a synergy of tools, methods, and modeling languages.

Managing the whole development of a system in the same model, equals high growth of efficiency. No room for misunderstanding is an absolute game changer for collaboration between different disciplines and teams.

MBSE has arrived in the industry

Companies focusing on System Engineering (SE) often have a solid technical framework for model-based development: a toolchain — a series of interconnected applications. Famous providers like IBM, Sparx Systems, or Dassault are familiar to most.

From a more objective point of view, it often seemed that achieving MBSE ambitions was just a small step away when introduced to such a toolchain. However, these efforts failed due to factors such as a lack of user acceptance for individual tools or the missing effort required to foster an MBSE culture. INVENSITY’s key contribution was primarily in initiating and implementing change management processes.

MBSE is State of the Art – classical SE is the exception

MBSE is an evolution, not a revolution, of classical System Engineering. The growing complexity of products and their associated development and manufacturing processes leads to a natural “MBSE-volution”. Increasing complexity also means more managing resources. This is difficult to scale economically. MBSE makes it possible to realize increasing system complexity without disproportionately large management resources.

The “MBSE or classical SE question” is a myth. It is more about continuous development. This is evident in existing forms of MBSE, such as a data model behind a requirements tool. Like a system model, a data model is about linking information. It is possible that the first approaches have already been integrated into your development processes, without you actively pushing it – an evolution.

Accepting that MBSE is an inevitable result of active System Engineering raises the question of how to make this process steady and secure.

Toolchain enables Toolchain

A system model links information that is graphically represented using modeling languages. One risk we observed in the industry was the inconsistent use of graphical representations without an actual model behind them. This happens when the system architect works with Visio or PowerPoint.
A proper toolchain is fundamental for MBSE-based development; claiming to develop model-based without a toolchain is not possible.

All information is interconnected

By using a model across all technical fields, the relevance of disciplines shifts and requires in-depth examination. Configuration management behind MBSE is challenging, considering all disciplines from an early integration standpoint. In practice, this means bringing “architects,” “testers,” “safety experts,” and others to the same table. Thus, collaborative and uniform work is essential from the beginning to break down silo thinking. Disciplines that previously only focused on their own information now must consider a common model.

MBSE as a skill and mindset

Establishing an MBSE culture is one of the most challenging aspects of the developmental process in our observation.

The minimum requirement for every engineer is to read and understand models. This requires experts who can model systems. No one can hide in the tools they feel comfortable with or have used so far — all information must be maintained in the same model. This poses a particular challenge for change management: every developer/engineer/employee must contribute to ensuring that all disciplines are represented in the model.

MBSEvolution – Taking the final step

The industry has paved the way for a clean MBSE evolution in recent years. Through toolchains and processes, this essential development is more achievable than ever. Nonetheless, being proactive is crucial. If integration has already begun, it is time to complete the final steps:

  1. Build and expand toolchains to make consistent models available for communication along the SE.
  2. Support the ontology of the planned model through meta-models, domain-specific nomenclature, and design guidelines.
  3. Identify information needs and questions from stakeholders in the development process, define suitable views of the model, and provide them.
  4. Empower employees with the MBSE mindset because reading and understanding models are essential for success.

Every company is at an individual stage in its development journey. To evaluate the current state, tools like the ’ISEPAK questionnaire on the SE process landscape’ from INVENSITY can be useful. Based on its results, measures can be defined.

To learn more about how we can support you with guiding the MBSE transformation in your company visit our MSBE site or contact one of our experts directly: Leonhard Mertz

The insights gathered demonstrate the evolution of Systems Engineering. We are excited about this progress and look forward to the opportunities to contribute to the MBSEvolution.

Author

  • Leonhard Mertz

    Senior Consultant

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