This installment in our podcast series as we dive into and discuss important trends and challenges facing the High-Tech (H-T) industry today. This episode is a recording of a panel discussion featuring industry experts Mike Egan, Dassault Systèmes Expert Business Consultant and Lou Feinstein, Dassault Systèmes Industry Sales Director.
Mechatronics engineering is a multidisciplinary endeavor. Its purpose is to create systems that deliver their functions through a synergistic combination of both mechanical and electronic components – Mike Egan
Enjoy the podcast with host Howie Markson, Mike Egan and Lou Feinstein.
To learn more, please visit: go.3ds.com/hightech.
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0:08 Hi. Welcome to the panel discussion on “How To Boost Your Business Through Collaborative Mechatronics Engineering.” I’m Howie Markson, Dassault Systèmes Marketing Director and the moderator for this event. With me is Lou Feinstein, Industry Sales Director and Mike Egan, Expert Business Consultant – both on the High-Tech team here at Dassault Systèmes. Both Lou and Mike have extensive experience helping companies transform product development. Welcome Lou and Mike. So let’s get started.
My first question is to Mike. Mike, can you explain what we mean by the term, mechatronics engineering?
0:42 Hi, Howie. Great to be here. I really had hoped I can make this simple and I’ll try. By definition, mechatronics engineering is a multidisciplinary endeavor. Its purpose is to create systems that deliver their functions through a synergistic combination of both mechanical and electronic components. However, over time, the mechatronics definition has become larger and larger. So now, it has to include software engineering, and systems engineering. I mean, not so many years ago mechanical and electronic products and their development was somewhat separate. That time has passed mechatronics is a key competence for companies across many industries. It’s because many products that have previously been built as electromechanical systems are now becoming smart and connected.
Howie Markson 1:38 So Lou, why is mechatronics engineering so important today?
1:42 Well, as Michael is stated, almost everything is becoming smart and connected today. And mechatronics and software driven technology has really become pervasive in the industry. Today, we have millions of devices and their associated infrastructure, which we now call the Internet of Things. Let’s look at Halo a small startup company that took something as common as a smoke detector, made it smart, connected, and created an incredible experience to increase safety. This smoke detector uses input and different technologies from different sources to create a unique experience allowing early notification of bad weather conditions to save lives. By combining this technology, they’ve created a unique customer experience. Now when we talk about mechatronics, mechatronics enables customers to deliver new user experiences. The downside to this is time to market pressures don’t get simpler, or even lower. And the amount of increasing complexity that comes along with mechatronics can also be challenging.
Howie Markson 2:47 So, Mike, based on your experience working with manufacturers, what are the challenges in developing mechatronic products,
Mike Egan 2:54 Like Lou said for delivering desired customer experiences, the main challenge is managing increasing product complexity. This requires more disciplines and competencies to really work together during development. So product complexity actually drives coordination complexity. On top of that, you have the typical three development goals of quality, time and cost. Customers of smart devices want perfect products, with the latest innovations and cheaper than last year.
As a consequence, any high-tech company needs to have nothing less than world class engineering to compete in their demanding markets. This means they need to have the best people with best-in-class methods with the best tools available. And then last but not least, high-tech innovation is delivered by lots of independently operating players – large and small ones in networks. And everyone’s operating globally. All this doesn’t make it easy to develop complex mechatronic innovation to the point.
Howie Markson 4:02 Wow, that sounds pretty challenging. Lou, what are some of the leading companies doing to address these challenges that Mike just mentioned?
Lou Feinstein 4:10 Most companies have tried many things to address these challenges. Let’s start with something very pragmatic, that leading companies actually do – it’s simplify the working environment, so that engineers can spend more time on value-added tasks. A Swiss company that produces high-end kitchen appliances wanted to grow their business, but at the same time wanted to make sure they didn’t compromise on their renowned quality. They developed and deployed an innovation platform to manage their product development processes in a single environment connected to all people within the company, allowing them to do from ideation through product development. Today, they have a much simpler process with more agility, and in a secured collaboration to support your business growth.
Howie Markson 5:00 So Mike, can you share another way how your customers are addressing the challenges you mentioned?
Mike Egan 5:05 Sure. Let me expand on what Lou just said. Simplifying processes can be particularly effective for project management. Again, is by having everyone work on the same data set. So for the project teams, there’s no search, no information gathering, no translation, no interpretation. We know from studies and customers that they can reduce non-value-added work by as much as 30%. With information always up to date on a single platform, you can reduce the so called error and rework. For example, a supplier of consumer electronic components in Korea, who we worked with, they were able to increase the rate of early detection of design issues, from 5 to 45%. And let’s not forget, with a platform, you encourage an innovation culture of openness and sharing with all the positive effects on the sustainability of innovation. And for the pace.
Howie Markson 6:13 You talked about pace in growth. Lou in today’s competitive environment, continued innovation is critical. How can companies keep or even accelerate the pace of innovation to grow their business?
Lou Feinstein 6:24 Well, it is clear from working with different companies that existing processes really don’t work and really don’t help them facilitate growth and so forth. And what we see is a lot of companies are trying to squeeze that extra 5 to 10% productivity out of the way they used to work. And this really usually produces a lot of stress and strain on the on the businesses and the employees. So a lot of companies are moving from a push system tool pull system, where information can be pulled from, from a Single Source of Truth, making it very easy to have all the information for the employees at their fingertips.
The leading supplier of electronic defense systems, they had a really, really strong growth targets. And what they put in place was a digital transformation initiative, really reshaping the way that they’re doing the processes from end to end. So what they decided to do was to really go with a standardized interface that connected everyone into one system. And it really provided easy collaboration with information, consistency, and traceability from a Single Source of Truth. But however, it’s important, that a platform is an inclusive tools to all the people that are in within the organizations, so that you have all of the disciplines on the same software with the same type of interfaces, no matter if you’re working with software, electronics, or mechanical systems. You know, you really need to connect all the different people in one tool connecting all the different domains with both people and the tools that they use in their particular domains.
Howie Markson 8:00 Thanks. So that’s a great example. So Mike, what are some of the best practices in terms of applying technology and the development of mechatronics products?
Mike Egan 8:09 Well, there is another strong lever to mastering product complexity. And that’s by taking control of the product architecture. So in other words, defining and managing the product architecture holistically. The advantage then is you can enable modularity, and design reuse. That, in turn, enables reduced time-to-market for complex innovations. For example, a German company that was developing car multimedia, they leveraged MBSE, Model Based Systems Engineering, to develop an innovative head up display. Now the team is spread across multiple different sites in Europe. And they used the virtual twin for everyone to have a complete understanding of the behavior of the system, any point of time. Now, this also allows their software engineers to virtually test the way their programs interact with the other systems. Now, this is key for them to be efficient in developing quality software.
Howie Markson 9:17 Okay, another great example of a company using a platform to develop and tie mechanical, electrical and software together. Thanks, Mike. Lou, any last thoughts on how companies can boost their business with an innovation platform?
Lou Feinstein 9:34 Absolutely, Howie. When using automation, it’s really easy to accelerate your business. And really, to use automation, you really need to change your approach and you’re moving from a document-driven to really a data-driven approach. And what this allows you to do is to really get your data sent to you, through automation, to see what your processes and practices that are taking place. The other things that are really important to do is to really do lots of simulation, it goes back to the old mentality of “measure twice, cut once.” And today, we really have great simulation tools that can do so many aspects like structural thermal, electromagnetic EMAG performance, and all sorts of technology that never really existed before. And then the other piece is really front-end loading of the knowledge base. So it’s really to look at concepts and ideas much earlier in the process. We call it today, you know, ideation and it’s relatively inexpensive to do. So really do the ideation first look at different concepts and move forward.
Last but not least, let’s keep in mind that customer experience is not just defined by product and its functions. It’s also defined by the price and availability, and its perceived quality. So it’s clear, it’s very important to have manufacturing on board so that basically you can make your tasks much simpler, more effective, and more seamless. And this is what an innovation platform will bring to you.
Howie Markson 11:05 That was our last question. Very interesting discussion on how to support growth through mechatronics engineering on a purpose built infrastructure that is secure, open, scalable and high performing. Lou and Mike, thank you for your insights and thanks to everyone for joining us. To find out more how Dassault Systèmes is helping companies with development of mechatronics products, go to: go.3ds.com/hightech