June 16, 2016 | Written by: Chris O'Connor
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The Internet of Things is changing the rules for how companies can leverage design and engineering practices to get a leg up on competitors. Smart engineering practices can help you engineer reliable, smart, connected products and systems that enable innovation in the face of complexity.
These devices are bringing new and exciting possibilities into our lives, everything from changing how we commute to illuminating the way the world around us operates. At first, our only concern was about the simple things these devices did: digital displays showed us status, and then digital input enabled us to configure them. Now, devices can talk among themselves and with their maker over the cloud, enabling real-time insight. You can see this occurring in personal devices as well as industrial machines on the factory floor.
Modern devices are instrumented, intelligent and interconnected. They can transmit and accumulate data, then use it to improve their performance. The tremendous functional possibilities for such products offer both opportunities and challenges to manufacturers. The ability to generate new revenue through software upgrades and maintenance services is one such opportunity. However, because these products use software, transmit data and are parts of systems of systems and different ecosystems, traditional engineering processes often need to be modified to address their design and development.
Engineering complexity has grown exponentially at every step along the way. However, this complexity has not been accompanied by an increase in physical components, but in more powerful and varied software capabilities. Engineering lifecycles now include software and its requirements and relationships in an ever-growing fashion. Organizations with the ability to create, design, develop and maintain these new systems can realize better safety, easier compliance and improved security. These enterprises will benefit from well-planned engineering processes that reduce design phase work, allowing similar works to be created from a single blueprint and enabling software that specifies new features and models. Enterprises that lag behind face manufacturing delays, difficulty in meeting compliance and safety goals, and the likelihood of a feature or function attack from their competitors.
Continuous engineering and planning
A thoughtful approach to engineering requires a continuous evolution of requirements definition and product improvement that lets you manage the intelligent software on modern devices, as well as operate globally using cloud-based capabilities. Implementing a continuous engineering solution that incorporates quality, project planning, requirements management and thoughtful design helps ensure predictability; engineering connected devices helps guarantee that devices will be durable and adaptable. While the process must be carefully considered, it must also be quick and agile. Continuous engineering also accelerates the delivery of increasingly sophisticated and cloud-connected products. Engineers can better manage dependencies and respond to change flexibly and rapidly throughout the development lifecycle while controlling costs, quality and potential risks.
The most current capabilities take these efforts one step further by keeping complex requirements, design and test relationships consistent. This allows the maker to manage many versions and configurations across multiple domains so that the right software, services and applications match the right hardware. These capabilities can also help you easily control and reuse engineering artifacts to speed development, reduce risk and improve productivity.
Learn how continuous engineering can help you rethink, redesign, reintegrate and re-innovate to build better devices, products and systems.