22 May 2024


Blog, Concurrent Design, Engineering

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The design and development of complex engineering systems involves multiple stakeholders across all disciplines, who can leverage new technologies and approaches to improve the quality of the results and streamline processes. System engineering tasks have typically been performed using a document-centric approach. However, there has been a shift in recent years towards model-based system engineering (MBSE), where documents are replaced by digital models, bringing many benefits to the design process.

Whether you are hearing about MBSE for the first time or you are already using it, it is important to have a thorough understanding of all the possibilities it has to offer. In this blog series, we’ll explain the principles of MBSE and how you can start using it in your projects. But before we get into the details, we will first answer the most common questions about this methodology.

By Paloma Maestro Redondo, System Engineer and Project Manager

What is model-based system engineering?

Model-based system engineering is defined by the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) as “The formalised application of modelling to support system requirements, design, analysis, verification and validation activities beginning in the conceptual design phase and continuing throughout development and later life cycle phases”.

MBSE has shown clear benefits in the design of complex systems and is used in many areas to overcome some of the challenges faced by system engineers. Different methodologies, tools and languages can be used to support MBSE processes at different stages in the life of a project. Model data can usually be exchanged between tools, and keeping models up to date ensures that the latest information is available to stakeholders with appropriate access rights.

The benefits of MBSE

The advantages of implementing MBSE in projects are mainly related to improved efficiency and consistency in the design process. Nevertheless, there are other additional benefits for many system engineering activities. Here are some examples of what MBSE can provide to your team:

  • Increased shared system understanding among stakeholders
  • Digital continuity
  • Simplification of processes and increased productivity
  • Improved transparency and communication in the design team
  • Enabling reusability for future designs
  • Improved traceability between requirements and the design
  • Greater analysis capabilities and support for automation.

How do we start using MBSE?

Adopting an MBSE approach can present challenges, depending on a team’s experience of this methodology. Projects using MBSE often require a greater initial investment, as the team must assess which methodology best fits the project’s needs, and then based on that, select the tools and infrastructure necessary to support the modelling process and the exchange of information. It is also important to evaluate whether the team requires additional training to gain the required knowledge to be able to work independently.

System engineers and project managers will also need to organise access rights and configuration management for the modelling activities. Interoperability between modelling tools needs to be evaluated, and dedicated software solutions might need to be developed for this purpose.

Once the necessary tools and the infrastructure are in place, you can begin setting up your first system models. MBSE can be applied throughout the entire project life cycle, so your teams can benefit from it right from the early stages of the design. There are specific MBSE tools that facilitate the identification process of mission requirements and user needs, which can be particularly helpful for engineers during the conceptual studies phase.

If you choose to use tools that offer collaborative modelling functionalities, you can also use them to support concurrent design sessions. This approach can later be extended to the following design phases for most of the system engineering processes, with the models being maintained to provide full traceability throughout the system’s life cycle. Some organisations are already reaping the benefits of implementing MBSE from the early phases, with higher quality solutions delivered in a shorter period of time.

Do you want to learn more?

If you are interested in MBSE and want to learn more about the methodology and the tools, follow Starion Group on LinkedIn to be updated with the new posts on this series. Among other topics, we’ll cover the challenges involved and other solutions like collaborative modelling using MBSE, and we’ll provide key tips to get started and build consistent models.

You can also meet our team of experts at the Model-Based Space Systems and Software Engineering 2024 (MBSE2024) Workshop that will be held in Bremen, Germany, on 28-29 May, where we will present some of the activities related to MBSE in which Starion is involved. Find out more about this workshop at the MBSE2024 website and join other MBSE experts from European space agencies, industry and academia.

Further information