Systems Engineering and Industrial Design Convergence
There is a growing awareness and recognition of the necessity of merging the ideas and concepts of industrial design with the fundamental aspects and principles of systems engineering. Conferences such as the 2018 International Forum on Design for Manufacture and Assembly, organizations such as NASA, as well as reputable industry journals, have all recognized the necessity of converging the elements of both aspects of engineering into one whole.
Examples of the Convergence of Industrial Design and Systems Engineering
- The 2018 International Forum on Design for Manufacture and Assembly featured a report on Dynisco, a company that produces temperature and pressure sensors and controls, and analytical instruments for the plastics industry. Dynisco first launched a Continuous Improvement (CI) initiative in 2009 by deploying Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA®) and Lean Manufacturing (system engineering techniques) to improve their engineering and manufacturing practices. Now Dynisco has started adopting Systems Engineering principles as well into product design principles, toward their overall product development, enhancing their products through improved features and such system inputs as voice-of-the-customer (VOC) requirements.
- A great example of Dynisco combining aspects of both fields of engineering is in their LMI 5000 series product, which is a laboratory melt flow indexer for testing the melt flow rate of polymers. This product had recent design improvements, ending in the development of a new model that has since been released to the market. The LMI 5000 series melt indexer was launched in 2013, being in production ever since, while the new upgraded LMI 5500 recently launched offers improved functionality for customers, with Systems Engineering incorporated. The new LMI 5500 products demonstrates Dynisco applied Systems Engineering approaches to outline the product definition, and DFMA® industrial design principles to optimize the design itself.
- Based on initial voice-of-the-customer (VOC) feedback, Dynisco tried to enhance the LMI’s functionality through design principles. Then the company began a yearlong project using Systems thinking to create the product definition applying DFMA® to improve the total assembly of the product.
- Product design principles such as Design for Assembly (DFA) and Design for Manufacture (DFM) are being combined with systems engineering principles to reduce costs and improve efficiency. DFA provides a method of optimizing product designs through minimizing the number of parts, providing ease of assembly and quality designs, while DFM assists in the developing of cost effective parts, by selecting appropriate materials and processes. DFMA®, the systems engineering software tool used that combines both, is best applied early in the product design process to provide the best results.
- The company uses systems engineering principles such as Customer Value Chain Analysis (CVCA), along with affinity diagrams as an analysis to gain a more clear understanding of the needs of the customers and stakeholders in relation to the value provided by products. Using the affinity diagram, data can be summarized into a priority list of customer needs to be addressed during the actual product development.
Control Engineering Journal and Others
- A reputable industry journal wrote an article in 2018, focused on combining systems engineering (SE) to product life cycle management (PLM) that will result in innovative products and systems.
- PLM, or product lifecyle management, is an aspect of industrial design with a focus on physical designs, computer-aided design (CAD) models, and bills-of-material (BoMs). PLM’s foundation is the part, or subassembly and assembly structure, that would ultimately be defined by the systems engineering principles.
- An engineering organization that combines both fields and aspects may be a challenging task since today teams are working with rapidly changing and increasing complexity of products, greater and varying regulations, and global competition. The journal states that the first steps for realizing this convergence will be to create an environment where SE and PLM can work together by: uniting SE and PLM teams, creating inclusive processes for both disciplines, connecting and integrating information in a single source for engineering, planning for change, and consulting customers and stakeholders.
- Although from an older source (2016), this query and answer from an authoritative source deals with combining aspects that improve the user experience alongside a company's systems engineering approach. Steps to begin the convergence are listed as: involving stakeholders and customers, gathering user insights early and applying that knowledge during product design and development, seizing the opportunity for user experience to grow your business, and by being patient and taking your time in small meaningful steps.
- Also from an older cited report in 2017, this document from NASA outlines the essential differences, commonalities, and the convergence of both sides of the engineering field.
- The work "seeks to explore the relationship between these two concepts, comparing their historical development, values, applications, and methods," with the primary contribution of the work being a set of "four concept models that depict plausible relationships between design thinking and systems thinking for engineering design." These four concept models include the distinctive concept model separating the two fields, the comparative concept model comparing them, the inclusion concept combining aspects, and the integrative concept integrating both together as one.