Darmstadt, September 2020 – The prostep ivip Symposium 2020 also experienced a new "normal". For the first time in 23 years, the world's largest, vendor-independent meeting of the PLM community was held online. This did not have a negative impact on the interest shown in the exchange of information about current trends in digital product development and manufacturing; on the contrary, at times, more than 1,000 participants watched the live presentations. This year's agenda focused on model-based systems engineering and the challenges posed by system development in the context of validation and cross-enterprise collaboration.
At the start of the symposium, the entire board of the prostep ivip Association gathered on the stage of the improvised studio at the ICS in Stuttgart, from which the online event was professionally moderated, to welcome participants. The high level of interest shown in the event indicated that the decision to hold the event despite COVID-19 was the right one, even though there was insufficient opportunity to network online. As Dr. Henrik Weimer, the new chairman of the board, pointed out, the symposium is the most important platform on which the members of the association can share information on the progress they are making with regard to the digital transformation and discuss their experiences. Prof. Rainer Stark added that the key challenge posed by this transformation – upon which the Coronavirus has had no impact – is the transition from a document-based approach to working to a model-based approach.
One of the companies that has implemented the methods of model-based systems engineering (MBSE) and is now reaping the initial benefits is CLAAS. The agricultural machinery manufacturer CLAAS develops not only smart, connected agricultural machinery but also complete farm management systems. The company has set up a systems engineering solution lab, which acts as an incubator to introduce users to MBSE, in cooperation with system vendor Dassault Systèmes. Getting experienced engineers to map their know-how using models is the biggest hurdle encountered in systems engineering, said Dr. Kai Korthals, head of Digital Product Engineering at the agricultural machinery manufacturer. CLAAS and Dassault Systèmes were the main sponsors of this year's symposium.
The symposium's online format helped the association attract a large number of international speakers this year. For example, Taro Shimada, CEO of Toshiba Digital Solutions, and Dai Araki presented an interesting approach to the integration of different types of simulation when designing automotive systems that also works in distributed environments. Junichi Matsudarai from the Japanese carmaker Toyota's Powertrain division discussed the challenges encountered when developing new powertrains and simulating digital models using real test data. One of these challenges is the consistent management of data, which is managed in its different degrees of maturity and quality using different IT systems.
Simulations and virtual prototypes play an important role, especially when it comes to validating autonomous driving functions. Hans-Martin Heinkel (Robert BOSCH GmbH) said that in order to ensure the traceability of deliverables, the simulation processes need to be linked better to other engineering domains such as requirements management or test engineering. Together with Dr. Steven Vettermann (PROSTEP AG), he explained to the participants the approach that German industry is developing for cross-system and cross-domain traceability as part of the SET Level research project.
The creation of a distributed simulation environment across company boundaries not only presents a technical and organizational challenge but also a cultural challenge, as René Te-Strote (BMW Group) explained using the cooperation with BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) as an example. The joint venture develops vehicles for the Chinese market with BMW providing development and simulation data. Te-Strote pointed out that collaboration requires trust, which can only be built through face-to-face contact.
The presentation by Stephen Collins (Anark Corp.) and Ed Dreyer (The Boeing Company) made it clear that open standards play an important role in making it easier to communicate and collaborate across company boundaries. Boeing uses Anark's visual content management solution to provide suppliers and service partners with 3D product data in neutral formats. The company also provides the aircraft manufacturer with support when creating interactive 3D instructions for installing wiring harnesses in all its aircraft programs. Dryer stated that the objective of Boeing's digital thread strategy is end-to-end use of digital information across the entire value chain.
The symposium's program of events was rounded off by presentations on projects being carried out by the association's various working groups. These deal, among other things, with the standardization of work processes in systems engineering with the aim of improving interdisciplinary and cross-company collaboration. The Cross-Discipline Lifecycle Collaboration Forum (CDLC Forum) has defined use cases for this purpose and has developed the first demonstrators together with the system vendors Aras, Contact Software and PTC. It is intended that work now to be continued in the new Interdisciplinary Collaboration Framework Forum (ICD Forum).
The association's Scientific Awards for young scientists were also presented during the online symposium. Dr. Christian Buchholz from the TU Berlin received the prize for the best doctoral thesis, which comes with 4,000 euros in prize money. In his thesis, he investigated how a hybrid prototype can be used to test the handling of driver assistance systems on driving simulators earlier and more comprehensively. The hybrid approach requires significantly fewer controllability tests involving an actual vehicle, said Buchholz.
His and all other presentations are available to interested parties on the prostep ivip Association's YouTube channel.
The association's board hopes to be able to welcome participants in person at the next symposium, which is being planned for 5 and 6 May 2021 at the ICS in Stuttgart.