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September 25, 2023

How Systems Engineering Improves Organizational Process and Performance 

Key research on the value of model-based systems engineering in addressing the complexity of smart product development   

If there was one word to describe the evolution of technology in the 21st century, it would be convenience. We’re surrounded by smart products, from devices with some programmable automation as well as connected ones, to software-defined internet of things (IoT) products supported by applications, analytics, and the internet. Each of these innovations are designed to make life easier. Another common attribute among all three is a higher degree of complexity involving the successful integration of mechanical, electrical, and software components.

To address this level of complexity, many companies have embraced model-based systems engineering (MBSE). Instead of document-centric systems engineering, MBSE is a methodology that focuses on creating and exploiting digital systems and engineering domain models as the primary means of exchange of information, feedback, and requirements. It involves the entire process of capturing, communicating, and making sure that all the digital models used to represent a system are coordinated and maintained throughout the entire life cycle of the system.

Taking an MBSE development approach puts modeling at the center of more complex system designs like smart devices in consideration of design requirements, analysis, verification, and validation — all of which can be accomplished with Ansys simulation.

Research, advisory, and publishing firm Lifecycle Insights examined the inherent benefits of mature systems engineering, MBSE, and systems analysis of complex system development in its 2022 MBSE study. This blog highlights these findings, including the impact of integrating these approaches and how companies can derive value from them. 

Industrial designer CAD software

The Science Behind the Study

The 2022 MBSE study was conducted to gain insight into how systems engineering efforts have improved organizations’ processes and performance. The study surveyed nearly 300 respondents from companies from a range of industries, including off-highway, construction, and agricultural equipment; aerospace; automotive; consumer electronics; industrial equipment or heavy machinery; high tech and electronics; and consumer products.

To compare the impact of systems engineering initiatives among respondents, researchers sorted them into three groups based on the maturity of their systems engineering initiatives. Those with the most mature initiatives were classified as “most progressive,” while those with the least mature initiatives were classified as “least progressive.” The remaining respondents were classified as “moderately progressive.”

Team developing prototype turbine engine

Manufacturers See Great Value in Systems Modeling and Systems Analysis

Given these efforts, researchers came to a definitive conclusion that the most progressive respondents often realize significant value from their embrace of systems modeling and systems analysis, irrespective of their industry or the size of their company.

Consider the following: Study respondents reported an average change order cost of $11,000. ­The most progressive companies executed about six fewer post-release change orders than their least progressive peers (6.4) — a 28% improvement. ­ Lifecycle Insights’ research over the past three years indicates that the average company undertakes about 23 development projects per year (23.2). Using these figures, the most progressive companies enjoy an average savings of $1.62 million. But as the table below indicates, the potential savings for those companies can be even greater. 

em modeling

Companies that execute a high number of projects and make highly complex products can save as much as $2.7 million per year by reducing the number of post-release change orders they carry out. Companies with far fewer projects per year that make low-complexity products may enjoy less savings, although reducing costs by $27,000 per year over the course of several years is by no means insignificant.

Automotive industrial engineers

Study Findings Point to New Insights and Best Practices of Progressive Companies

Overall study findings reveal that the most progressive respondents consistently exhibit certain characteristics related to the adoption of systems engineering. Some of those characteristics and related findings are highlighted below.

Specifically, the most progressive companies identified in this research­ have:

  • Experienced more benefits from systems engineering initiatives than their peers, in part because their initiatives are far more mature. Nearly half of the most progressive companies (47%) have fully adopted systems engineering solutions and practices, compared to just 13% of moderately progressive and 3% of the least progressive respondents. ­
  • Formally established specific roles and processes as part of their systems engineering initiatives. Nearly three-quarters of the most progressive respondents (74%) rely on roles dedicated at least half of the time to performing systems analysis. Just 30% of the least progressive respondents said the same. Similarly, around four in five of the most progressive companies (82%) have a team dedicated to verification and validation for systems. In comparison, only 28% of the least progressive utilize such a team. ­
  • Practiced MBSE in conjunction with systems analysis to create additional value. Approximately 70% of the most progressive companies synchronize systems models with systems analyses more than twice as frequently as 33% of the least progressive companies. More than three-quarters of the most progressive respondents (76%) build, manage, and reuse systems analysis components — nearly three times the rate at which their least progressive counterparts do the same (26%).

The findings presented in this blog highlight just a portion of the data contained in “Improving System Design Processes: An Executive Overview of Findings from the 2022 MBSE Study.” This report features additional data and analysis regarding the factors driving organizations to pursue systems engineering, the pursuit of systems modeling and systems analysis, and the benefits of these strategies in comparison to traditional approaches. It also contains a set of recommendations that provide guidance for companies pursuing or considering pursuing systems engineering initiatives.

How do Ansys products support systems engineering initiatives? Model simulation remains an integral part of MBSE development — to define system features, explain the dynamic behavior of a system, reduce testing and prototyping, and more. To supplement the study mentioned above, read our blog to learn how simulation supports MBSE. 

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