How Safran Engineering Services is facilitating complex system design in shorter development cycles.
Shorter development cycles: a challenge for manufacturers
In aerospace, as in all industries, the time it takes to release new products in the market is decreasing, driven in particular by customers seeking advanced equipment, a need to reduce costs and the introduction of new regulations. This challenge also involves the image and leadership of companies in very competitive industrial sectors. "Airbus' carbon-neutral aircraft is one example," explained Emmanuel Hygounenc. "This aircraft manufacturer has set itself the goal of developing a new aircraft with breakthrough technology by the year 2035."
Breakthrough technology, diverse interfaces, new features that interact with each other, increasingly integrated equipment, involving mechanics, electronics, software: systems are becoming more complex and design risks are increasing. The classic V-model for development cycles has been upgraded to a W-model, based on tests at each development phase for studying feedback loops and anticipating possible issues. This is where system engineering comes in, a comprehensive approach that manages this complexity and reduces inherent risks. "In an integrated system, everything is connected and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The system must also take into account the interfaces that are in contact with its environment," explained Emmanuel Hygounenc.
What concrete solution did system engineering provide? Modeling of the product analyzed as a whole and taking into account each stage of the production process, from architecture design to market launch. "Modeling, also called MBSE (Model Based System Engineering), is the tool that enables this type of complex analysis," explained Emmanuel. In particular, it offers virtual prototyping, the components of which are representations of the physical, material and software reality of the product.
Ultimately, the goal of modeling is to create several virtual and complete representations of the system, located in its usage environment. "Modeling makes it possible, in real time, to explore new options at each project stage, promote the involvement of several departments, carry out simultaneous engineering, extract several statuses and viewpoints for sharing, simulation and documentation and take advantage of digital continuity," explained Emmanuel.
Optimizing complex system design: the expertise of Safran Engineering Services
But for Safran Engineering Services, mastering complex systems also involves respecting the processes set up by its customers for product development: management of requirements and configuration, supervision of developments in the specification, design, integration, approval, verification and certification stages.
This is what its engineering experts are striving for: developing effective modeling tools that adhere to customer manufacturing methods, approaches and processes. The company has developed a specific, efficient tool which simplifies and optimizes complex system design: Xatis. It incorporates the "One Safran Develop" process and the CESAMES systems architecture framework.
"Xatis is a software application that unifies the product development process and manages an iterative design approach, through repeated cycles," explained Emmanuel. The tool, used today by over 500 customer users, most of them system architects, adapts to changes in customer needs, provides rapid modeling and evaluates and compares technical solutions. It offers automatic tracking of updates and real-time synchronization of diagrams. It facilitates collaboration between project stakeholders, responding to the interdisciplinary process of complex systems requiring the involvement of different departments. Finally, digitizing models guarantees traceability. "Xatis is an architectural framework that guides the different stages of analysis, through different architectural views depending on whether we focus on an operational, functional or organic aspect, with static or dynamic viewpoints," added Emmanuel.
"In addition to responding to the need to design complex system architectures that shorten development cycles, the MBSE and our Xatis tool give engineers extra time to optimize their systems," continued Emmanuel. In fact, modeling and the associated methodological tool free up time, for quickly exploring part and material alternatives, conducting tests to offer the customer the most effective or/and least expensive solutions that are always compatible with the system environment. Safran Engineering Services in particular took advantage of these new opportunities to optimize the design of a helicopter gearbox.
"We are talking about aeronautics here, but our approach and our system engineering tools can be easily adapted to other industries: naval, rail or automotive...To expand into new markets, especially those where we are least expected, we have to be able to offer services that set us apart." To do so, Safran Engineering Service has what it takes, demonstrated by its ability to carry out projects in complex systems, expertise, customer support and offering of tool-based methods that can be applied to all areas of excellence and innovation.