“Today, CAD is off the critical path of quality in the automotive world,” remarked Evans Routsis, Director of Services for Dassault Systèmes. What he sees emerging is the challenge of electromechanical integration. He points out the major quality issues in the past few years have been in integrating electromechanical systems and the failure to recognize that impact. The mechanical engineer and the electrical engineer speak fundamentally different languages—any miscommunication between them causes problems.
“Practically every commodity in a running chassis has a microchip,” said Routsis. Every commodity in a car is becoming smarter—with integrated ECUs—and more connected—requiring data cross talk with other systems. This means each commodity needs systems engineering attention, something the industry has not fully grasped. Just as an example of how complexity at the subsystem or commodity level has grown, there was a time in the early 1990s when an engineer designing a door system did not have to worry about as many electromechanical interactions as they do today. In the near future, exhaust systems will have thermoelectric devices that recover waste heat, requiring data interactions with battery management systems. Even tires need to communicate with mandated Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems. The list goes on.
“There was a time when every engineer could keep two CAD dedicated designers busy. Now, it takes two engineers to keep a single CAD designer fully occupied,” said Routsis. He attributes this in part to the many aids CAD providers such as Dassault Systèmes have developed, such as part templates. These give CAD designers a starting point for a design. Templates, along with other automation features, greatly speed up developing part designs. “In the future, we will need such templates for systems as well,” said Routsis.
The fundamental building block for such system templates is a PLM platform that connects requirements and functions with the part designs that satisfy them. Satisfying a single requirement statement today usually affects the design and functionality of a number of commodities. He showed data that in the early 1990s satisfying a single requirement often affected a single commodity. Today it can affect up to five, and more is on the way. Routsis likens this to threads of connectivity between systems, requirements, functions, and test procedures.
He believes the main strength of Dassault Systèmes’ 3DExperience Platform, based on its V6 platform technology, is in creating, maintaining, and showing this connectivity. He stresses it is not document management. “The requirements document for a single car today can be 12 in tall. You need an electronic means of organizing how each requirement affects design and how designs affect meeting requirements,” he explained. The V6 platform maintains live, two-way communication across what the company calls the Requirement, Functional, Logical, and Physical domains or RFLP. “What you need – and what the 3DExperience provides – are graphical representations of this linkage, including dysfunctions,” he explains. Knowing where dysfunctions are is vital to preventing future recalls, and as system complexity grows, so will the number of interfaces between commodities.
“Every new and existing interface is an opportunity for a failure," he said.