19 June 2024


Blog, Engineering, MBSE

No comments

Model-based systems engineering (MBSE) represents a major shift in the way we design, develop and verify complex systems. Unlike traditional approaches that rely heavily on documents, MBSE uses models as the primary means for information exchange and decision making. This methodology enhances efficiency, reduces errors and provides a clearer and more consistent framework for all the system lifecycle phases.

As introduced in last month’s post, MBSE not only streamlines the development process but also ensures that all elements of the system are harmonised, which results in more reliable and higher quality outcomes. In this second post in our MBSE series, we dive into the core principles of MBSE to demonstrate how and why it is transforming typical system engineering activities in multiple industries.

By Paloma Maestro Redondo, System Engineer and Project Manager

How and why MBSE is transforming system engineering

1. Centralisation of system models

One of the fundamental principles enabling the implementation of MBSE is the creation and utilisation of comprehensive system models. These models serve as a single source of truth, ensuring consistency across different teams and stages of the development process.

Centralising the system information ensures that all stakeholders – engineers, designers, project managers and customers – are aligned and work using the same datasets. Furthermore, this approach minimises the risk of miscommunication and discrepancies when handling multiple documents.

2. Comprehensive system representation

MBSE provides a comprehensive view of the system being designed. Rather than focusing on individual components, it emphasises the interactions and relationships between the different system elements. Engineers and modellers should keep in mind that MBSE is not just about drawing diagrams; instead, the focus should be on the data and how it is organised. Structured models offer significant value by providing insights that isolated sources cannot. MBSE models are highly navigable and can be queried in various ways, enabling comprehensive analysis and information exchange with external tools.

Following an integrated approach allows us to identify potential issues right from the early stages and ensures that all elements work together seamlessly.

MBSE also enables engineers to model the entire system when needed and consider the dependencies between the different domains involved in the design, which leads to a more robust and optimised solution.

3. Lifecycle continuity

The advantages of applying MBSE include the ability to utilise it across the entire system life cycle, from conceptual design all the way to the decommissioning of the product. This continuity enables interconnections between all phases of development, enabling traceability at all levels. Any changes made to the system elements are automatically reflected and propagated across all related model data, facilitating an efficient change management process.

Following an integrated life cycle approach enables better decision making at each stage, as early design decisions can be consulted in the later manufacturing or maintenance phases.

4. Enhanced communication and collaboration

With MBSE, models serve as a common language for all project participants. This universal language bridges the gap between the different disciplines involved in the design process, enhancing communication and collaboration between all stakeholders. Engineers from various domains can understand and contribute to the overall system model, making the development process smoother and more coherent.

When working in a collaborative fashion, we ensure that the contributions and feedback from all the experts are harmonised, so that conflicts can be resolved in the early design phases.

5. Automation and reusability

MBSE uses automation to optimise processes such as simulation, verification and even documentation. Automated tools can quickly create and validate models, reducing manual effort and minimising potential human errors. Engineers can also take advantage of the latest developments in artificial intelligence (AI) when using MBSE, as having structured and interconnected models allows more consistent sets of data to be used to train the AI models, which then leads to more accurate results.

Additionally, models can be reused across different projects and applications, which can significantly save time and organisational resources. For example, a validated model of a satellite subsystem or equipment can be reused to design future satellites, accelerating the design process and reducing costs.

6. Enhanced visualisation and understanding

One of the most powerful advantages of MBSE is its ability to facilitate the visualisation and comprehension of complex systems.

Models can be visualised in a number of ways, including 3D renderings, functional flow diagrams and state machines, providing a clearer understanding of the system’s structure and behaviour. MBSE tools can display the information from different viewpoints, adapted to the specific concerns or interests of each stakeholder. This enhanced visualisation facilitates stakeholder presentations and design reviews, and can be also used for educational purposes, making complex systems more accessible and understandable.

7. Scalability and flexibility

MBSE is scalable and adaptable, making it suitable for use for both small components and large complex systems. The tools and frameworks facilitate project management processes and can contribute to improved efficiency, even in complex projects.

The flexibility provided by the tools allows for adjustments and iterations in the model data, and changes in the requirements or the design specifications can be accommodated without disrupting the rest of the development process.

8. Improved risk management

By providing a comprehensive and accurate representation of the system, MBSE helps organisations to identify and mitigate risks at an early stage of the development process.

Models can be used to simulate different scenarios and predict potential failures, allowing engineers to address and solve issues before they become critical. Even if risk assessment is not always considered in the initial phases, this proactive approach enhances system reliability and safety.

9. Compliance with standards

Adherence to industry standards and regulations is essential in system engineering. MBSE facilitates compliance by integrating these industry standards into the models. This integration ensures that all aspects of the system comply with applicable regulatory requirements, simplifying audits and certification processes.

10. Facilitate innovation

MBSE gives engineers a solid and flexible framework to innovate. They can try out different design ideas, see how they perform and quickly make changes based on the results and what they learn. This lets them explore new solutions and find ways to make things better and optimise the designs.

In some industries, MBSE enables rapid prototyping and testing of new technologies, which can accelerate the development of more efficient systems.

In summary

Model-based system engineering is transforming the way we approach system development, providing a robust framework to develop complex systems more efficiently.

Managers, engineers, modellers and customers should be aware of the benefits of applying MBSE in their projects, keeping in mind its principles and understanding that each of them will contribute differently to the MBSE process. As we will detail in the upcoming posts in this blog series, to properly implement a model-based approach we require a combination of methods, tools and languages, and we need to know how to choose the best one for each task. Other aspects to consider include how to identify the appropriate elements to be included in a model and how to create high quality models and maintain them in a consistent and coherent fashion.

The adoption of MBSE enables organisations to reduce development times and deliver higher-quality systems, making it an essential practice for modern engineering teams. Embracing this approach not only helps you get better results in current projects, but also builds up a strong foundation for future improvements, providing a competitive advantage in an increasingly complex technological landscape.

Find out more

If you want to learn more about the MBSE methodology and tools, follow Starion Group on LinkedIn to find out when new posts in this blog series are published.

Discover our range of MBSE services and solutions.