Transportation & MobilityApril 7, 2021

Developing complex vehicles faster

Model-based systems engineering – MBSE – cuts automotive development cycles and improves on-time product launches.
Avatar Rebecca Lambert

Manufacturers that use a model-based systems engineering (MBSE) platform to interlink all disciplines and systems configure new vehicles faster and more cost effectively, compared to those reliant on traditional engineering and manufacturing approaches, a recent study found.

“If you look at the hard metrics, our research found that for the best in class – those that have embraced MBSE and are in the top 20% of the aggregate performers – 91% met their product launch dates and saw a 9% reduction in the development cycle,” said Ed Ladzinski, CEO of SMS ThinkTank, a US-based systems modeling and simulation consultant. “For the laggards, only 44% met their product launch milestones, and saw an 8% increase in their development cycle.”

Traditional engineering lags MBSE, experts agree, because its linear, document-led approach, where separate teams develop vehicle, powertrain and major subsystems and then try to merge the three, cannot accommodate the accelerated development cycles and growing complexities of next-generation vehicles. MBSE-focused automotive manufacturers, however, bring their vehicles to life as virtual twins: dynamic, digital 3D models that can be evaluated not only as a fully integrated automobile, but also in context of virtual universes that simulate real-life operating conditions. With these models, every interconnection is defined from the start, ensuring that each system integrates seamlessly throughout the design process and beyond, and performs as expected in different operating conditions.

“This is a real opportunity for the automotive industry to better manage and adapt to change, be more innovative and deliver better products that exceed consumer expectations.”

Ed Ladzinski
CEO, SMS ThinkTank

“MBSE focuses on the development of a coherent, digitalized systems model,” said Tino Krüger, the Berlin-based managing director for professional services company Accenture’s Industry X.0, Engineering/PLM and Smart Factory practices. “This comprises requirements, design, analysis and verification information and is characterized as a model-centric approach. The model serves as a single source of truth for the development team and is the primary artifact produced by systems engineering activities. Documentation becomes secondary and is automatically generated from the system model.”

Beyond speed and cost savings, manufacturers can expect to minimize errors and continuously improve performance.

“With this holistic way of thinking, consider all the other benefits that may initially get overlooked [in an ROI calculation]: the risks that don’t materialize, the rework that doesn’t need to be done, the customer complaints that don’t occur, the insight that goes into every decision,” Ladzinski said. “This is a real opportunity for the automotive industry to better manage and adapt to change, be more innovative and deliver better products that exceed consumer expectations.”


Accenture’s MBSE practice has launched a series of workshops that show businesses how to develop a reusable, high-level architecture of an innovative product in just 10 weeks with MBSE. “Under the theme ‘from zero to hero,’ our certified experts teach your interdisciplinary team the basics of MBSE to first gain a deep theoretical understanding of the model-centric approach,” Krüger said. “In parallel, as a team, we apply this knowledge directly to the development of the client’s own use case and let MBSE be experienced in a digestible, yet creative and applied manner. With this newly developed theoretical and practical skillset, clients can further design and develop their own prototypes, while connecting the results to their existing development infrastructure.”

Accenture’s guidance is based on the universal Cyber MagicGrid Framework, which helps transform stakeholder needs into systems requirements.

“We start with the problem domain,” Krüger said. “The goal is to understand the customer’s problem in order to design the product in a customer-oriented way. Within the solution domain, the actual engineering and the development of a technical solution tailored to the previously defined problem begins. Finally, the physical components of the product are elaborated in the implementation domain. Based on the workshop, we further help our clients to scale MBSE on a strategic level.”


Bosch Car Multimedia, a division of Germany-based Bosch Mobility Solutions, makes advanced vehicle infotainment and navigation systems. Until it reengineered its processes and brought all disciplines together on a single platform using an MBSE approach, it lost critical information and experienced costly late-cycle product changes.

To address these issues, Bosch Car Multimedia adopted a standard framework and a business innovation platform to organize its processes around MBSE, connecting its specialized functional teams with a visual language that each discipline could understand. The company, which formerly relied on physical prototypes to detect design errors, now creates an integrated 3D model, allowing all software, mechanical and hardware engineers to work concurrently on designs and testing their interactions virtually so that product performance can be evaluated and refined at an early stage.

“With a model-based approach, we can analyze concepts and their weaknesses quicker, taking into account all tolerances in the early development phases, so that the system can be correctly interpreted,” said Martin Schmidt, director of customer programs at Bosch Car Multimedia. “For example, through kinematic simulation and behavior modeling we were able to adapt the design of a blockage detection algorithm.”

By using a ‘systems of systems’ approach such as model-based system engineering, automotive companies can simplify engineering complexities between mechanical, electrical, software, and other functions. (Image © Dassault Systèmes)

As more manufacturers recognize MBSE as a critical tool for successfully executing holistic change, SMS ThinkTank’s Ladzinski encourages them to think of MBSE as a journey, not a destination.

“Start out [your MBSE adoption journey] by developing a gap analysis, looking at where you are now to where you want to be,” he said. “Then draw up short, medium and long-term objectives with a real focus on educating all areas across the business of the impending changes. Remember, MBSE is not a product but a way of thinking throughout the entire product lifecycle. And it’s not an overnight implementation, but a journey that takes leadership, resources and patience.”

Effective MBSE change management requires that businesses consider the wider impact of MBSE across their processes, corporate structures and culture, and get all stakeholders on board.

“MBSE is traditionally successfully applied to current IT landscapes and even can be included during the decision-making process,” Krüger said. “Decision-makers should be advised to set the right scope for an MBSE integration as a starting point.”

Over time, businesses practice MBSE more naturally and on a strategic level, building it into everything their developers, designers and engineers do to put all interconnections in dynamic relation. “The model-centric approach enables improved communication, tackles ever-rising complexity among today`s products and services, and also reduces risk during the design and development phases,” Krüger said. “Functional dependencies in progressively complex products are presented transparently, and customer needs are realized and transformed to highly functional products.”

Discover more about the benefits of MBSE >

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