How Model-Based Systems Engineering practices support the effective implementation of a Product Line Engineering approach

9.4.2: Teaching and Training

Session Chair: TJ Ferrell

Stephane Bonnet, Juan Navas (Thales)

Wed 24, Jul 16:15-16:55
Grand Cypress Ballroom A
Product Line Engineering;Systems Engineering;Model Based Systems Engineering;Unmanned Aerial Systems;Variability;Commonality
Product Line Engineering (PLE) is an approach that provides an efficient way to build and maintain portfolios of systems and equipment that share common features and capabilities, as well as to efficiently manage variants and versions. One of its practices is to put in common the development assets and to reuse those assets for addressing stakeholders’ needs, rather than developing bespoke solution which later on will be difficult to reuse. The expected benefits of the PLE approach are manifold: lower development and recurring costs, reduced time to market and better quality of the product, among others.

The implementation of a PLE approach in an organization encounters several challenges related to the impacts on the existing organizations, their roles and responsibilities; the tools that are required to implement it; the business context which may be favorable or not to this implementation; the quality, maturity and ownership of the existing building blocks (i.e. the reusable items); and the heterogeneous profiles of the people that will implement the approach.

Regarding this last challenge, the Systems Engineering (SE) approach has proven to be a key tool for addressing it. Indeed, SE practices promote an interdisciplinary approach for both technical and management tasks, aiming at delivering solutions satisfying the stakeholders’ expectations and constraints. They are well adapted for a PLE implementation, as it impacts a high number of technical and management processes, requiring the collaborative effort of several disciplines of engineering and beyond.

We have been developing a set of Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) practices to support the implementation of the PLE approach. MBSE promotes the use of models as a semi-formal support to improve communication and reduce ambiguities among heterogeneous populations. In the case of architectural models, they also provide the means to represent, discuss on, perform trade-offs and review the reference architectures of the product and its building blocks.

During this presentation we will provide an overview of the MBSE practices that support a PLE implementation and in particular the definition of the architectural design of a product:

- Analysis of the operational context of the Product Line – expectations and constraints of the stakeholders coming from diverse market segments

- Analysis of the product needs – definition of the capabilities of the product, its key requirements and the key interfaces with the stakeholders

- Variability & Commonality analysis – identification of the those capabilities and constraints that are common to the different market segments, and of those that shall be addressed in a variable way

- Variability impact analysis – definition of how the logical and physical architecture of the product is tailored according to the product needs

These MBSE practices, as well as how they contribute to the effective implementation of a PLE approach in an industrial organization, will be illustrated through an example: the definition of the architectural design of an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) addressing several market segments and stakeholders.