Challenge: Mechatronics products, here's help

Here's help for mechatronics design and development, which could lead to huge savings.

03/11/2008


Boston, MA —e numerous and unique challenges for product development. 
Many challenges include finding experienced systems engineers with cross functional knowledge, identifying system level problems early in the design process, and making sure all design requirements are met in the final system.

Aberdeen Group

's

January 2008 System Design: New Product Development for Mechatronics study

found that the inability to adequately address these challenges can have a substantial impact on the cost and time involved in product development. (The report is available for free on Aberdeen’s website until the end of March 2008.) Depending on the complexity of a product, it can mean over a month of additional product development time and over $93,000 in product development costs.
Overcoming these challenges often comes down to having the resources available to address them. Aberdeen found that a majority of companies attempt to go outside of the enterprise to supplement the resources they lack, often by reaching out to partners to leverage discipline expertise. However, Aberdeen found that this is not a strategy that’s being adopted by top performing companies. Instead of looking outside the enterprise, these industry leaders are adapting existing, internal resources and leverage technology, altering product development processes rather than simply adding designers.
Digital validation for integrated controls component and hardware in the loop testing: age to utilize HIL simulation. These simulations “trick” the embedded software to think it is seeing real world inputs and outputs that would be coming from a sensor or actuator. To make the test even more realistic, HIL simulations run on the actual “hardware” or chip that will be installed in the final system. As with any simulation, manufacturers can run through a variety of scenarios and test cases far more extensively than may be possible with physical tests.
For example, in a simulation to test a new design for ABS breaks, a signal would indicate the tires were slipping as the breaks were applied. The controls would see this as a sensor reading and the proper response could be monitored. Simulations are run in real time, allowing manufacturers to not only verify proper functionality, but also ensure the response is timed correctly.
Next steps: Use of HIL testing is only one of the many ways industry leaders are changing how they approach controls design for mechatronic products, pursuing the means to speed up the process itself as well as finding better ways to enable controls engineers to better work in parallel with designers working on other components of the design. These steps allow these companies to develop mechatronic products up to 2.9 times faster than their competitors and under budget twice as often. Aberdeen’s System Design: New Product Development for Mechatronics report analyzed the experiences of over one hundred and seventy companies to understand exactly what these industry leaders are doing differently.
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