Darmstadt, March 2021 – The more complex and variant-rich products become, the more time-consuming it is for companies to reliably analyze and evaluate the technical and financial impact of changes. The challenges grow when a large number of partners and domains are involved in the product development process. Impact analyses are designed to help companies identify the possible impact of product changes in advance. A consortium or research institutes, software vendors and user companies, under the leadership of the Heinz Nixdorf Institute at the University of Paderborn, Germany, is developing a model and IT-based approach with the aim of making this type of analysis in product development easier. The joint project "ImPaKT" (ICT-capable model-based impact analysis in product development), which is being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and is scheduled to run for three years, was launched in January and has a total project value of approximately four million euros.
Within the framework of the project, PROSTEP will develop a software module for the cross-domain coordination of changes and will validate the functionality of the solution together with industry partners.
The number of product variants is constantly growing. Every modified detail means changes in the design and production processes of all the partners involved. When it comes to developing complex products, engineering change management (ECM) becomes a time-consuming and error-prone process due to incomplete and distributed data and knowledge bases, media discontinuities in the information flows, a lack of supplier integration and the high cost of variant management. In the joint ImPaKT project, the consortium partners intend to develop a solution that makes it possible to efficiently analyze the impact of changes on the basis of a comprehensive data and knowledge base, while at the same time making the complexity of variant management more manageable using function-oriented impact analyses.
The integration of mechanical, electronic and software components in a single product requires an interdisciplinary development process. A key objective of the project is the creation of a reference architecture for end-to-end model-based system development that links the partial models in the existing data repositories from the development of mechanical, electrical and software system components and creates a common parameter space for changes. The project partners will develop and implement methods for a fully integrated impact analysis using model-based systems engineering (MBSE) and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms on the basis of this integration platform. Standards for integrating impact analysis in process management and cross-enterprise collaboration are also to be defined.
In addition to the HNI, the Institute for Machine Elements and Systems Engineering at RWTH University in Aachen, the software companies CONTACT Software, Itemis and PROSTEP, as well as the user companies Eisengießerei Baumgarte, Hadi-Plast Kunststoff-Verarbeitung, Hofmann Mess- und Auswuchttechnik, CLAAS Industrietechnik, Knapheide Hydraulik-Systeme and Schaeffler are involved in ImPaKT. The software partners will be implementing a demonstrator based on the ImPaKT reference architecture. The industry partners' primary task will be to validate the suitability of the project results for supporting impact analysis on the basis of three case studies.
Dr. Martin Holland, responsible for business development and strategy at PROSTEP, says that PROSTEP not only expects its participation in ImPaKT to allow it to establish interesting contacts with customers and universities and expand its AI expertise.
"We also hope it will provide important impetus for our new traceability solution OpenCLM. As part of the project, we will be developing the demonstrator for a cross-domain change coordination module, which will be incorporated in our software solution at the end of the project."Dr. Martin Holland, Head of Strategy and Business Development at PROSTEP AG