To compete in today's rapidly changing business world, companies must be able to go to production with innovative designs. And they must be able to quickly attain high-yield, cost-contained, robust results to achieve high-quality, profitable products.
The latest automotive electronics features open up an array of opportunities for product and brand differentiation, but they also present unprecedented challenges for an industry faced with high volume production. When the development process encompasses hardware and software, analog and digital signals, sensors and actuators, or even a mix of disciplines, such as electrical, mechanical, or hydraulic, it can be extremely difficult to manage efficiently.
Model-driven Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) combines DFSS or Lean DFSS technology with a model-driven development process that builds on the strengths of each. In a DFSS process, Six Sigma principles are applied during the product development process to eliminate potential quality problems before the product goes to volume manufacturing.
A model-driven development approach provides a framework for dealing withand communicating aboutcomplex development processes.
A development process that merges modeling and simulation with DFSS provides a versatile incubator for innovation. Model-driven development techniques allow a design to be captured and simulated using mathematical modelsor virtual prototypesacross a range of abstraction levels. Through virtual prototyping, a broad range of new ideas can be quickly evaluated, optimized for cost, and efficiently put into production.
Challenges of a DFFS approach
A variety of methodologies exist for implementing a DFSS approach. Most incorporate some combination of the basic elements or phases shown in the table below.
Many organizations have turned to DFSS methodologies to systematically build in quality at each step of the process. However, as products become more complex and sophisticated, the DFSS approach presents several specific challenges.
Simply implementing DFSS in the context of a complex development process that involves a number stakeholders and variety of technologies can be daunting. In addition, DFSS methodologies require a commitment to systematic design experimentationbut the significant overhead of collecting data from physical experiments to optimize a design can become prohibitively cumbersome, expensive, and time consuming.
A model-driven design process that incorporates virtual prototyping can help address these challenges. Such a combined approach can be implemented using Mentor Graphics' tool SystemVisiona mixed signal, multi-discipline modeling and simulation environmentand the Minitab statistical application with an add-in that provides access to SystemVision virtual prototyping capabilities.
A model-driven development process manages design complexity
A model-driven development process provides a structure for managing a complex design processfrom functional requirements through architectural definition to component design completion. The engineering lifecycle is guided by a series of models at different levels of abstraction. Design functionality is directly linked back to the original requirements and functional specifications at each stage of development.
Minitab with SystemVision provides the framework and tools to support such a model-driven development process. The design is managed through a model hierarchy starting at the functional specification stage, moving down through the architectural design stage, and then to the most detailed, component-level implementation stage of the process, as shown below.
System architects, system- and component-level engineers, and Six Sigma practitioners can explore design options and make trade-offs at appropriate levels of abstraction, whether at the functional or specification, architectural, or implementation level.
At the functional level of the model hierarchy, system-level engineers create executable functions with measurable behaviors that correspond to functional specifications for the design as derived from the system requirements. Interactions and tradeoffs between specifications are explored virtually using functional-level models. Theoretical behaviors are modeled at this level without concern about whether a function will be implemented in hardware or software or which specific components will be used in the design.
At the architectural level, a system architect uses model simulations to explore options for implementing the system architecture. Decisions are then made about which functions will be implemented in embedded software, which in electronic hardware, and which using other physical disciplines.
At the implementation level, system-level engineers test the interfaces between different parts of the design "virtually" before the design is fully implemented, reducing errors and allowing integration issues to be identified and addressed early in the design process.
At the same time, component-level engineers drill down into critical areas of functionality, while dealing with the less critical areas more abstractly until the design is closer to completion.
At each step of this process, the original system requirements are traced to measurable attributes of the design and verified.