Planning of changes in a Model Based Enterprise.
Let me first say that I do see the benefits of the Model Based Enterprise (MBE) and that modeling information is also very valuable from a CM perspective. Think of improved impact analysis capabilities to support the expert domain specific and cross expert domain impact analysis as shown in the picture below. (See also the following posts: We need a cross-platform interface for impact analysis! and CM2: the cross-platform standard for Impact Analysis for more details on the Pyramid of Impact Analysis)
However all these details need to be aggregated to a level that can be used to make business cases for decision making and make it usable for planning of deliverables.
Where does the deliverable begin and where does it end?
Let’s take an extreme scenario where all your product documentation is modelled. How can you identify easily who owns what information in a way that you can plan changes to that information?
In other words if you want to implement a change to your product, you need to do an impact analysis and use the results of the impact analysis to plan deliverables with owners and delivery dates. But how can you plan all those independent relations, objects, attributes that need to be changed. Where does the deliverable begin and where does it end?
In the ‘good old’ days
How did we do this in the ‘good old’ days? When information used to be collected in a document, it was easy to identify who is the creator, and who are its users. A document had an intended purpose and context, hence ownership is easily defined and a document can be planned easily as it is a clearly identifiable container of work. Based on the kind of change, the type of document and type of part, it was relatively easy to estimate effort for creation and updates.
Now flash forward again to the completely modelled enterprise. I do not want to plan each and every object, relationship or attribute, formula, characteristic, etc, as a separate task for my implementation plan. So how do I now identify the dataset, the set of information that I can plan as a task for which it is clear who the creator and its users are? See also A Glimpse into the Future of CM for more information on what a dataset is.
For a Bill of Material (BoM) or Bill of Process, it is quite clear where the boundaries are. But for instance the 3D Model is now also containing Product Manufacturing Information and what if you also add behavioral characteristics and formulas. Most likely the various types of information will have different creators and different users. Not necessarily all changes to a 3D Model will impact the other types of modelled information and vice versa.
Decoupling and context
So how do I now organize the information so that planning and execution of changes is facilitated in the most efficient way? If you cannot edit the information because someone else checked out the 3D Model, and you have to wait, it is far from efficient. Although modelling brings great advantages, it also needs to contain a level of decoupling and context to manage the creators of the information and be able to plan and efficiently execute changes.
If your data model does not take this into account you could create a situation that is far from optimal. To highlight the example: If you have multiple types of BoMs (e.g. an Engineering, Manufacturing, Planning, Service, etc) and you model it as one BoM with tags and you use revisions to control changes to the BoM, it will go wrong at some point. Typically different people own the various types of BoMs. Now updating one type of BoM require a new revision and in most systems that blocks you from executing other changes on the BoM. Or you allow multiple in work revisions, but that means you have to merge these changes at some point, risking merge issues or releasing information in the wrong order. Or you need to setup a BoM management team that does all BoM updates for all the owners of the various types of BoMs. In any case it is not going to be efficient. Decoupling the various types of BoMs to have their own revision would be a great step to improve on this situation. This might be an obvious example, but more cases will come up when going model based.
It is important to be able to identify datasets by clearly defining the boundaries of a dataset, so that ownership can be clearly defined in order to allow for planning of changes and efficient execution of the work. Therefor we should not only focus on the the implementation of MBx as the next new ‘shiny gadget’ but also focus on the usability and maintainability. on the long term. It is relatively easy to initially create a model, maintaining a model is harder.
Photo by Sydney Herron on Unsplash