Smart Engineering for Smart Mobility: Out of the Comfort Zone

The automotive industry is facing its greatest challenges – with huge impacts on the development process. Our engineering has to adapt and become smarter. Only whoever implements that with all speed will remain viable in the future. But what exactly does the term ‘smart engineering’ mean?

First of all, smart engineering is the prerequisite for something that is the only possible solution: smart mobility. Smog in cities, climate change, the overloaded infrastructure, land consumption, and Vision Zero are all increasing the pressure to shift away from individual urban mobility and towards new forms such as sharing or pooling. Naturally, vehicles ultimately form the backbone of mobility in this case as well, but it is their control that makes the difference and mobility ‘smart’. By this, we mean an intelligent system that transports people and goods efficiently and as sustainably as possible. Low-emission and economic drive technologies are crucial, of course.

Individual components and an observation of the overall context

We need smart engineering for smart mobility. I regard this as a modern, digitally supported development process for intelligent, networked mobility. To achieve this, it is not sufficient to simply want a ‘smartphone on wheels’. Instead, the specific analysis of all components and systems along the entire added-value chain is required, so we have to learn to analyze not only vehicles but also their subsequent operators and passengers.

The use of a requirement-controlled shuttle therefore requires not only a state-of-the-art vehicle but also a booking platform and an operator with corresponding logistics planning. The integration of municipalities, local public transport, and the local utilities for providing the charging infrastructure is also necessary. This example shows that the requirements of all stakeholders also have to be considered from the word go.

This is something completely new for our industry. And this is why there are currently no engineering systems with which we can cover the entire added- value chain. We are already good at analyzing vehicles or f leets, but the stakeholder chain has become longer, so the stakeholders will also have to be ‘given a voice’ in future development processes. ‘Systems engineering’ was introduced in the 1960s as an interdisciplinary approach for the development and implementation of complex technical systems and projects. It is based on the assumption that a system is more than the sum of its subsystems in terms of its functionality. At that time, development was focused on analyzing the overall contexts.

»Smart engineering is the fundamental transformation of our way of thinking in development.«

Stefan Schmidt — Executive Vice President Project Management Office on Smart Engineering

While classic systems engineering methods are document-based, model- based systems engineering (MBSE), as a continuation of the idea, enables a development concept that focuses on the integration of models along the system life cycle. MBSE is based particularly on development phase-specific digital system models that are created and integrated throughout the product development process. This enables the modeling of a complete system that accompanies the entire development process and includes all model elements. In this process, the developers use the customer requirements to determine exactly what the right tools for their needs are. They are then described at different abstraction levels with the aid of various models. The consistency of the data and the avoidance of media discontinuities and duplicate entries pose a challenge.

For each data point the 'single point of truth'

We are in the process of implementing such a new engineering platform at IAV. It will support this holistic approach, for example, by handling all product features in structured form and having a ‘single point of truth’ for each data point. Our new engineering platform will form the foundation for numerous, proven domain tools that we implement throughout the development process. Depending on discipline, we also employ the latest methods such as virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and agile working methods in smart engineering.

In addition to the technology, the employees and their qualifications are especially crucial to this transformation. They have to speak a common language and rely on a coordinated development process. Smart engineering will also involve new roles such as the system architect, the requirements engineer, or the systems engineer. We will define these roles in the context of our strategic personnel planning. In our Digital Lab, IAV employees can familiarize themselves early on with the requirements of smart engineering.

Smart engineering is the fundamental transformation of our way of thinking in development. This new paradigm necessitates a major effort and creative thinking right now, because it offers the only possibility of also being able to meet the complex challenges of smart mobility in the future. This does not involve following every fashion trend or buzzword but specifically taking new approaches on the basis of sound analyses. In other words, whoever wants to remain relevant in the coming years must leave their comfort zone right now.

The article was published in automotion 01/2020, the automotive engineering magazine of IAV. Here you can order the automotion free of charge.

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