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Engineering Toolbox

Engineering processes are characterized by a high degree of structuring, clear methodology and standardized procedures. However, relying on these alone is often no longer enough for a company to be successful in competition. Successful companies pursue innovative approaches to solutions and often do things not just “better” but fundamentally differently.

In the skilled trades, a saying goes, “Good tools are half the work.” This is just as true for engineers, although these days the tools are increasingly software solutions. Most engineering processes are hardly imaginable without suitable software support. In many cases, extensive standard systems from renowned manufacturers are used.

Standard tools versus unique selling points

How can the claim of “doing extraordinary things” and “doing things fundamentally differently” be reconciled with the use of standard products? First of all, we don’t see any contradiction in this. Many steps in engineering processes involve standard tasks for which there are proven procedures. For these purposes, the use of standard products is efficient and resource-saving, in keeping with the guiding principle “don’t keep reinventing the wheel”.

However, even the best tool suites reach their limits. Especially at the transitions between different organizations or extensive systems, gaps often occur. Closing these gaps usually involves a great deal of manual effort and is therefore error-prone and time-critical.

A loss of efficiency is annoying, but it becomes critical when the standard procedures available in the product are not sufficient and new, innovative procedures and methods provide a decisive competitive advantage. The following questions then quickly arise:

The goal: A flexible engineering toolbox

This is where our Engineering Toolbox approach comes in. We complete the software toolbox of engineers with specialized, combinable tools based on open interfaces and standards. Our focus is to build on existing solutions and integrate new functions as building blocks in order to move forward quickly and effectively. In our experience, these can be roughly divided into two (not always clearly defined) categories:

In most cases, such special tools are created to cover a specific need. In many cases, additional requirements and benefits subsequently arise because the new functionality also brings benefits in other processes or because new possibilities are recognized in the course of the project - “eating whets the appetite”. In the long term, the opportunity arises to build up a modular toolbox of versatile individual tools that can be flexibly combined.

To identify and leverage such potential, we recommend an agile project approach. This allows us to react quickly and flexibly to iteratively develop new capabilities based on user feedback. The scenarios are as diverse and individual as our customers.

There are many options when choosing a suitable technology stack; however, it often makes sense to implement the tools as web-based microservices. This has various advantages:

Harness Navigator

In the Harness Navigator, two worlds collide: the world of geometric design unit (DMU) analysis and the world of electrical connections including equipment variance in the physical vehicle electrical system. Both are being developed independently of each other for the time being.

The original challenge was to enable installation space investigations for specific variants of a wiring harness. For this purpose, the “empty” geometric shell of all variants had to be combined with the logic and knowledge of equipment variants.

The resulting solution consists of two components:

By cleverly integrating existing products, it was possible to support the special case of wiring harnesses and at the same time use the established functions, e.g. for collision checks in the DMU.

The new ability to dynamically drive the 3D model based on domain knowledge then led to a number of other ideas. For example, coloring can be used to determine at a glance whether design rules such as the separation of redundant line runs are ensured. Even more possibilities subsequently emerged through the integration of additional data sources on vehicle configurations, signals and critical lines.

Picture Credits Title: © Robert Kneschke, Adobe Stock
Johannes Becker

Johannes Becker

Managing Consultant

+49 89 5307 44-523

Interest aroused? Do you also have gaps between the standard products or functions that you would like to automate? Then please contact us without obligation!