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Hierarchical design models in the mechatronic product development process

of synchronous machines
P. Hehenberger
, F. Poltschak
, K. Zeman
, W. Amrhein
Institute for Computer-Aided Methods in Mechanical Engineering, Johannes Kepler University of Linz, Altenbergerstr. 69, 4040 Linz, Austria
Institute for Electrical Drives and Power Electronics, Johannes Kepler University of Linz, Altenbergerstr. 69, 4040 Linz, Austria
Austrian Center of Competence in Mechatronics, ACCM GmbH, Altenbergerstr. 69, 4040 Linz, Austria
a r t i c l e i n f o
Mechatronic design
Hierarchical models
Concept evaluation
Synchronous machines
a b s t r a c t
This paper presents an approach for using hierarchical models in the design of mechatronic systems. The
utilization and proper combination of solution principles from different domains of mechatronics allow
an extended variety and quality of principal solutions, where hierarchical models serve as very important
tools for complex design tasks. In order to master the mechatronic design approach and to benefit from it
as much as possible, a hierarchical design process is proposed, in which the domain-specific design tasks
need not be integrated as a whole on the mechatronic level of the design task. Consequently the models
should cover the different views on a system as well as the different degrees of detailing which leads from
a hierarchy of models to a hierarchy of design parameters. The specific views of the object represent the
relevant phenomena/effects of interest such as geometry, dynamics, stability or material and are used as
interfaces for the design engineer during her/his work. Their description by significant quantities is used
for analyzing different mechatronic design concepts. The approach is demonstrated by studying the activ-
ities during the design process of synchronous machines.
Ó 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction and motivation
Mechatronics may be defined as an interdisciplinary field of
engineering science, which characterizes the integration and inter-
connections between mechanical engineering, electrical engineer-
ing and computer science such that these interconnections are the
basis for designing successful products [1,2].
Mechatronic systems are multidisciplinary products, therefore
the knowledge required for developing such products/systems is
broad. Currently, there is a lack of integrated development meth-
odologies and tools for mechatronic products. Traditionally,
mechanical engineers develop their design with strong emphasis
on the geometric domain, afterwards the electrical components
are engineered in an electrical domain. This sequence of steps re-
sults in a given equipment for the subsequent automation and con-
trol engineering which is usually carried out in an automation
department represented more or less by software and control engi-
neers. All these persons have different views on mechatronic prod-
ucts (see also [3]).
When designing a mechatronic system, it is possible to design
the mechanical equipment, before any of the control system design
has been initiated. An obvious drawback of this sequential ap-
proach is the (probable) lack of compatibility between the sub-sys-
tems which results in additional efforts and costs to (optimally)
meet the specifications of the total (integrated) system. Another
drawback of this approach is that during the design process deci-
sions have to be made about whether to use a mechatronical or
just a mechanical solution. Design engineers have to balance
mechanical, electr(on)ic and software solutions. Without coordina-
tion between the different domains it is difficult to find a suitable
or even the optimum solution. Not only the selection of proper
materials and the knowledge about process constraints with re-
spect to the geometric restrictions of parts play a significant role,
but also the selection of completely different solution principles
from different domains. It is clear that design engineers need help
for these increasingly complex and multidisciplinary tasks includ-
ing the rapid and unerring evaluation of alternative solution con-
cepts and solutions during the design process in order to
facilitate their best choice. It is necessary to support the designers
to rapidly review alternative solutions during the design process
and facilitate the best choice.
One of the key-issues in the development of modern mecha-
tronic systems is the strict integration of mechanical, control, elec-
trical, electronic and software aspects from the very beginning of
the earliest design phases, as it can be seen from Fig. 1.
The paper is organized as follows:
Section 2 introduces into the requirements and demands for
hierarchical model in mechatronic design processes. This implies
also the description of several design and evaluation methods. Sec-
0957-4158/$ - see front matter Ó 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +43 07322468 6554; fax: +43 07322468 6542.
E-mail address: (P. Hehenberger).
Mechatronics 20 (2010) 864–875
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
j our nal homepage: www. el sevi er. com/ l ocat e/ mechat r oni cs
tions 3 and 4 presents an approach for hierarchical design models
for mechatronic systems. A definition of a mechatronic module is
presented which utilizes several domains (disciplines) of mecha-
tronics (e.g. mechanics, automatic control techniques etc.) merging
the respective domain-specific components. Section 5 describes
the modelling of a mechatronic application, a permanent magnet
synchronous machines. Conclusions are drawn in Section 6.
2. Background and objectives
2.1. Requirements on product development processes
Especially in today’s economic environment with its global
competition, high dynamics and shorter and shorter time to mar-
ket, a superior design concept for a product is crucial as it pre-
determines the main part of product success. For any new product,
the question is less how to realize it, than to find a promising supe-
rior product concept. In the traditional linear model of design, the
process flows from synthesis over analysis to evaluation. Design
methodology at the conceptual level includes as a mission the cre-
ation of innovative concepts, comprising a description in low detail
but with sufficient relevance for the evaluation of their essential
properties in comparison to other concepts. The product’s main
properties (e.g. performance, behaviour, function, weight, costs)
quantified by significant parameters are fixed during the concep-
tual design phase in the product development process [4,5].
If a system (overall system, sub-system or component) is de-
signed totally new, the conceptual design process leading to the
preferred design concept(s) for the system is usually a mentally
intensive and challenging work. As this step fixes the main portion
of success of the new product, it should be done by excellent engi-
neers. Due to mechatronics, the toolbox for solution principles is
widely extended; hence, the variety and complexity of different
solution concepts is drastically increased. This is the reason, why
conceptual design of mechatronic systems will be investigated in
more detail.
Amongst the variety of information available to the designer,
standards, directives and suppliers’ data generally provide specifi-
cations and specific aspects of products and their requirements. On
the other hand, the engineer has to follow several design rules (e.g.
design for manufacture) representing general information. Both as-
pects require a more detailed knowledge of the structure of the
product to be developed, of its functions and production in order
to make reliable predictions regarding the (technical) properties
and costs of the product. Although the properties of the product
are influenced to the greatest extent during its design, the informa-
tion for design, as a general rule, is still mainly derived from expe-
rience that can only be gained from the phases of the product life
cycle following design, which requires knowledge management.
2.2. Demands for hierarchical models in the mechatronic design
A mechatronic system is defined as a ‘‘box”, comprising several
design inputs and outputs for the different design requirements. As
a rule, mechatronic systems are assumed to be complex and to in-
clude a lot of internal couplings between different domains. The
system may contain mechanical, electrical, controller and other
typical components of mechatronic systems [6].
Therefore, a method should be available, which allows to derive
a specific design view from an overall model. In general, such an
overall model will be less sophisticated than more detailed sub-
models for one specific aspect. From this point of view it is con-
cluded that models should cover the different views on a system
as well as the different degrees of detailing. Nevertheless, all these
models (for the different views and at different levels of detailing)
should be consistent to one another as much as possible. One key
idea should be that the task of modelling mechatronic systems can
be viewed as a cooperative activity, which exploits the contribu-
tions from several separate models of the system, each of them
comprising a specific type of knowledge for the corresponding
view on the system as well as for the degree of detailing.
The task of designing models is based on two fundamental
mechanisms, namely operations inside a single model and opera-
tions across models. The proposed models may represent struc-
tural knowledge (e.g. about the topology of the system, the
properties of its elements and their interactions), behavioural
knowledge (about the (desired) behaviour of the system, its com-
ponents or sub-systems) and functional knowledge (how to fulfil
specific functions by the implementation of suitable components
using physical or other solution principles). The interactions can
be classified into two types (see also [7]). The internal interactions
describe the connections between the elements. On the other hand
external interactions represent the connections through the sys-
tem boundary.
The different models are integrated by using relations between
system structure and system behaviour, and by links between
function and behaviour implementing the function. To derive
abstractions from different points of view and detailing allow
building multiple models of a mechatronic system. These abstrac-
tions are interconnected through the model of the whole system
(overall model). The interconnections (interfaces) are used to man-
age the interdependencies between the different models. Accord-
ing to these considerations, the different views representing a
mechatronic model can be defined by the according system prop-
erties and areas of application (see [7,8]).
2.3. Background on characteristics of mechatronic design
VDI2206 [9] is devoted particularly to the design methodology
for mechatronic systems and suggests to carry out the develop-
ment process of mechatronic systems according to the so-called
Design Models
Control Unit
Control Unit
Physical Prototype, Mechatronic Product
Integration and Interaction in Design
Circuit Diagram
Fig. 1. Mechatronic design activities.
P. Hehenberger et al. / Mechatronics 20 (2010) 864–875 865
V-model (Fig. 2). After analyzing all requirements on the total sys-
tem, the sub-functions and sub-systems are defined (left branch of
the V-model). They are to be developed simultaneously by the
cooperating development teams. After verifying the sub-functions
and testing the sub-systems, they are integrated step by step (right
branch of the V-model). Then the performance of the integrated
system is checked. If it has to be improved, the initial operation
phase will be repeated (iterative process).
Another approach is represented by Axiomatic Design, a general
method enabling designers to structure and understand design
problems, thereby facilitating the synthesis of suitable design
requirements, design solutions and design processes. This also pro-
vides a consistent framework, by the help of which a design con-
cept can be evaluated from this axiomatic point of view.
The design axioms discussed by Suh [10,11] are:
The Independence Axiom: ‘‘Maintain the independence of func-
tional requirements (FRs)”.
The Information Axiom: ‘‘Minimize the information content of
the design”.
In an acceptable design, the design parameters (DPs) and the
functional requirements (FRs) are related such that a specific DP
can be adjusted to satisfy its corresponding FR without affecting
other FRs. The relationship between these two vectors can be writ-
ten as.
FR ¼ ½AŠDP ð1Þ
where A is the design matrix that characterizes the product design.
For a linear design, A is constant, whereas for a nonlinear design A is
a function of the DPs. In common cases there are more DP than FR
and A is a non-quadratic matrix. When the design matrix is qua-
dratic and diagonal, each of the FRs can be satisfied independently
from the other FRs by means of one DP. Such a design is called an
uncoupled design. The independence of FRs can still be guaranteed
if the matrix A is triangular and hence the DPs can be determined in
a proper sequence. Such a design is called decoupled design. Any
other form of the design matrix is called a full matrix and results
in a coupled design.
Among design alternatives satisfying the Independence Axiom,
the best one has the minimum information content which results
most likely in successful design. The Information Axiom provides
a quantitative measure of the merits of a given design and estab-
lishes the theoretical basis for design optimization and robust de-
sign. The Information content I
for a given FR
is defined in terms of
the probability P
of satisfying FR
¼ log
¼ Àlog
A design is called complex if its probability of success is low.
This occurs when the tolerances of FRs for a product are small,
resulting in high accuracy requirements.
System design and evaluation are important topics for which
improved tools and knowledge are ever claimed by the engineering
profession. Axiomatic design can be applied to systematize and
structure the design and evaluation of systems. A system may be
defined as an assembly of sub-systems, hardware and software
components, and people designed to perform a set of tasks to sat-
isfy specified functional requirements and constraints. Systems
may have a hierarchical structure with many layers of sub-compo-
nents and sub-sub-components.
In addition, this system architecture must be clearly known in
order to construct the system, distribute responsibilities, track
the effect of design changes, organize the complex tasks of manag-
ing a large project and create maintenance procedures [10,11].
A conventional way of characterizing systems is based on the
physical size or the number of components of the system. How-
ever, when making design decisions, physical size is of less signif-
icance than the number of functional requirements and constraints
the system has to satisfy and the number of levels of decomposi-
tion required to arrive at a complete design solution.
In Axiomatic Design the process under consideration is system-
atized by the use of four domains (Fig. 3):
The customer domain indicating the needs of the customer.
The functional domain expressing the desired functions
(desired behaviour) of the design object.
The physical domain representing the physical properties of the
design object.
The process domain illustrating how to achieve or produce the
design object.
2.4. Evaluation of product properties by design models
For the exploitation of the potentials of mechatronics, fully con-
sistent models for the product development process and for the
description of complex systems are essential. The interdisciplinary
description and definition of product information from the various
domains of mechatronics is a necessary requirement for mecha-
tronic design models.
Concerning the ‘‘product lifecycle management”, it is necessary
to consider all product relevant information from all phases of the
product life cycle in a general structure.
With the ever-increasing variety, integration and interconnec-
tions of functions and components of modern mechatronic prod-
ucts, the urgent demand for a combined (integrated)
consideration of all product features is given.
The various individual product life phases and the different
mechatronic disciplines involved require investigations concerning
distinct aspects of the product (object) under consideration. Hence,
a general description of product properties for different views, in
different combinations and grades of detailing should be available
(see Fig. 4).
Domain-specific Design
Mechanical Engineering
Electrical Engineering
Information Technology
Modeling and Analysis
Fig. 2. V-model for mechatronic design.
866 P. Hehenberger et al. / Mechatronics 20 (2010) 864–875
This description should be able to comprise the consideration
(design, modelling, analysis, testing, evaluation etc.) of certain
properties (deflection, dynamics, transfer function, reference ac-
tion of a control loop, etc.) of mechatronic systems, their power de-
mand, their complexity of manufacturing and assembling or of
operation and handling items.
In this context, different hierarchical models (e.g. cost models)
are useful. On the one hand, these models can be elaborated in
more detail during the product development process, which results
in an improved significance. On the other hand, it is possible to de-
fine rough and simple dimensioning models for the concept phase
by primarily simple models or by an appropriate reduction of more
complex models.
3. Design models
3.1. Characteristics of design models
Models are very important for complex engineering design
activities. In the engineering of high performance characteristics,
numerical modelling and simulation, i.e. experimenting with com-
puter-based models, is an increasingly important problem solving
technique. From the viewpoint of engineering design, models are
containers of knowledge, and simulations are activities producing
information that may improve product knowledge and potentially
also the quality of many analyses and decisions made during the
design process [12].
The aim of a behavioural model, i.e. a model of the (physical)
system behaviour, is to serve as a tool to find an answer to a design
question, i.e. each model is unique and it has a specific purpose.
The preliminary design phase is often characterized by a cas-
cading series of what-if questions. Many of these questions, which
may be of divergent character, are related to the complex depen-
dencies between geometry (shape), topological structure, and
(physical) behaviour.
The complex nature of engineering design, as well as the time-
and cost-constraints on this process, require highly efficient and
flexible procedures to configure system models (overall models)
for non-routine simulations. The modelling challenge may be ad-
dressed by a modular or an integrative model design.
A modular sub-system has interfaces that are well defined and
are shared with only a few other sub-systems. An integrative sys-
tem has interfaces that may be more complex and shared across
the whole system model. The physical behaviour of a technical sys-
tem depends on the properties of the sub-systems and their (inter-
nal and external) interactions, which take place at interfaces. An
interface describes the relationship between a pair of mating fea-
tures. Product models are important containers of significant prod-
uct properties such as shape and material. With present state-of-
the-art computer-aided engineering (CAE) technologies, finite ele-
ment (FE) and multi-body systems (MBS), modelling of geometri-
cal objects is a relatively straightforward technique.
The chosen approach to enable innovative mechatronic design,
flexibility, speed, and responsiveness to non-routine design ques-
tions is to rely on a modular model architecture that enables the
configuration of system models from a library of sub-models and
interface models. A sub-model can be a model of a single mechan-
ical component or of a complex system, e.g. a model of an inte-
grated mechatronic system with an embedded control system.
An interface model represents the physical interaction between
two sub-models or between the system model and its environ-
ment. Characteristic properties (e.g. colour of the product) are
stored as attributes (e.g. blue) of the mating features, which are
specialized product features. Each sub-model and each interface
model is a behavioural representation of a product model at a spe-
cific level of abstraction [12].
3.2. Definition of an information model and model conformance
The information model is the conceptual description of ideas,
facts and processes that in total represent the model of the design
product. The object created during the design process is called the
design object. Design objects may be models of systems, sub-sys-
Functional Requirements
Design Parameters
FR = A * DP
Fig. 3. Design domains.
of Drives
of Strength
nd E
Fig. 4. Evolution of product properties by design and analysis.
P. Hehenberger et al. / Mechatronics 20 (2010) 864–875 867
tems or single elements (e.g. parts or components) representing a
certain structure. There are groups of standard elements that are
used by every information model; according to [12] these groups
would contain the element’s entity, property, attribute and
Model conformance defines as property how well a model
implements its intended functions. Typical model conformance
characteristics are accuracy, speed and flexibility. In the modelling
process, these characteristics must be judged in the context of both
the model purpose and the intended model lifecycle. Non-routine
simulations, which have a tendency to be more explorative and
in many times also more qualitative than routine simulations,
are facilitated by models that are relatively easy to configure and
reconfigure for a slightly different purpose, i.e. models that are
4. Hierarchical design models for mechatronic systems
4.1. Definition of a mechatronic module
For the achievement of all aspects discussed in the previous
chapters, a method is needed, which helps the design engineer to
analyze and evaluate functional requirements and design parame-
ters of possible solutions. Our mechatronic pillar design model was
developed to assist the engineer especially in mechatronic design
tasks by structuring the design process and by increasing
A mechatronic module (according to [13]) utilizes several dif-
ferent disciplines of mechatronics (e.g. mechanics, automatic con-
trol techniques etc.). In such a mechatronic module exclusively
domain-specific components are merged. This means that a mech-
atronic module can be decomposed only into domain-specific
(non-mechatronic) components, but not into other mechatronic
modules or mechatronic system components. A mechatronic mod-
ule therefore designates a mechatronic sub-system at the lowest
hierarchical level of a mechatronic system and is indivisible within
the set of mechatronic sub-systems. With the mechatronic pillar
design model all couplings between the several mechatronic disci-
plines (domain pillars) can be described in a superior data plat-
form. Each model pillar characterizes a domain-specific sub-
component, which is structured into several hierarchical levels cor-
responding to the proceeding degree of detailing (see Fig. 5). The
above model description has the following implications: Only the
first (highest) level has an interface to the other pillars (compare
with encapsulated modelling) via the mechatronic coupling level.
All couplings between the model pillars (e.g. design parameters
and requirement parameters affecting multiple disciplines) are
captured and described at the mechatronic coupling level. The
model structure has to be adapted if additional couplings between
domain-specific components are detected during a design iteration
(design, analysis, integration, performance check etc.). This is also
true if new or additional domains (pillars in the model) come into
4.2. Using hierarchical models for conceptual design
In the context of mechatronic design processes, the phenomena
under consideration are mainly physical or chemical. The models
consist of a set of parameters as well as a set of logical and quan-
titative relationships between those models. Models are important
components of scientific theories. Modelling is the process of
establishing a model, which is a very challenging and creative
work. The challenging work in engineering design is to compose
(combine) suitable effects to a beneficial solution concept as well
as to describe and evaluate the resulting technical system with
all its relevant, usually well known phenomena. When establishing
a model, some kind of idealization is necessary, this means that the
model is intrinsically tied to explicit assumptions which do not
represent reality in a complete or perfect way. Appropriate
assumptions are keys to get simple models which still are signifi-
cant representations of reality whereas the exact description of
reality is not possible in general.
4.3. Hierarchy of design parameters
The hierarchy of the design parameters are investigated sepa-
rately for each domain. It is very useful if not necessary to fix some
important parameters at an early stage of the design process. De-
sign decisions bring a system from the initial design stage, through
several intermediate design stages, to the output of the design pro-
cess, the complete final documentation of the product. Both, the
initial stage as well as the design goal are generally described in
vague terms, which are not definitive. This is one of the reasons
why in many applications it can be observed that the number of
design parameters (DPs) to be fixed is much higher than the num-
ber of well defined functional requirements (FRs). Some of the
‘‘superfluous” design parameters are indeed not essential for the
solution (e.g. the height of a shaft’s shoulder), but others give rise
to significant optimization potentials of the solution. As another ef-
fect that can be seen is that one FR at level i can affect several FRs
at level i + 1 via the DPs at level i (Fig. 6).
The process of defining hierarchical levels must be repeated un-
til elementary FRs (e.g. proven solutions, standard components)
with their associated, well known DPs are achieved. This means
that switching between the functional and the physical approach
during the product development process is necessary. The design
parameters at one level can be classified into two categories. One
subset comprises n
= n
external parameters representing
requirement parameters for the next level. The other n
ters are exclusively local at the active level for dimensioning the
component at this level (internal design parameters). In the follow-
ing describes chapter 5 the modelling of a mechatronic application
(a permanent magnet synchronous machines) with the usage of
the presented approach.
5. Permanent magnet synchronous machines – modelling of a
mechatronic application
Synchronous machines have been used for decades mainly as
generators in electric power plants featuring a rated power of sev-
eral MW and above. In the area of small machines, covering for
example the whole region of automotive applications, a classical
DC machine has been the first choice for a long time. In this field
of application the power ranges from lW up to a few kW. It can
Domain-specific Components
Mechatronic Module
Mechatronic Coupling Level
Pillar 1 Pillar N Pillar 2
Fig. 5. Mechatronic module.
868 P. Hehenberger et al. / Mechatronics 20 (2010) 864–875
be seen as an impact of a mechatronic design which changed these
classical application fields of electrical machines completely
[14,15]. The brushes of DC machines have to be maintained, lead
to an increased complexity, need considerable space, increase
weight and not least costs and therefore are seen as parts that
should be replaced.
On the other hand, a change of requirements and the need of,
for example, highly efficient machines lead to the implementation
of completely changed machine structures including applications
that were formerly not powered by electricity.
Combined with the development of new materials as well as
more powerful electronic components, synchronous machines
gained a new field of application. Excited by permanent magnets,
brushes became obsolete as well as commutators, while the power
density could be increased even compared to DC motors. On the
other hand more or less sophisticated power electronics are now
necessary to achieve the same favourable torque to speed charac-
teristics as a DC machine. This includes the knowledge of the rotor
angle and can be implemented as vector oriented control [14,16].
Hence, control changed from an add-on to an intrinsic part of the
drive system and opened the way to the implementation of even
more features, which were at first enabling the vast variety of pos-
sibilities known from today’s permanent magnet synchronous ma-
chines (PMSM).
5.1. Mechatronic modules of a permanent magnet synchronous
Permanent magnet synchronous machines (PMSM) are known
for their mechanical robustness and their comparably simple
mechanical design [14]. However, there would be no point in using
them, if there would not be the possibility of powerful and flexible
control. This clearly separates the drive system into three mecha-
tronic modules: A mechanical system controlled with suitable
power electronics. As it is an inherent characteristic of mechatronic
devices to interact with the surrounding application, a boundary
has to be drawn. The selected boundary does not change the sys-
tem itself but affects the number of parts that are identified as indi-
vidual mechatronic modules. Without a loss of generality, a power
connection, a top level control command (torque, speed or position
for example) and a shaft to provide the output torque, are defined
as system interfaces. Therefore, only the components inside this
boundary are investigated further.
The graphic in Fig. 7 shows the interconnections of three mod-
ules that can be identified on the mechatronic coupling level.
I. The first module comprises the electro-mechanical hard-
ware of the actual drive. Here, according to the presented
mechatronic design model, three pillars can be identified.
Noticeable is the electro-magnetic domain, which includes
the magnetically active parts of rotor and stator irons, the
permanent magnet excitation as well as the copper wind-
ings. Due to the close coupling of electric and magnetic
effects, a separation of these two areas does not make sense
in the context of the pillar model. The electro-magnetic parts
are mainly designed to show a good electro-magnetic per-
formance, which results in the desired shaft torque. That
indicates to select the mechanical domain as the second pil-
lar. It includes bearings, shaft, housing, electrical connectors
and the mechanical insulation of the copper against the iron,
which is usually achieved using coil bodies. Forming the
basis and the support for the rotating parts and being the
output interface for the generated torque, is the main task
of this pillar. Thirdly, thermo-dynamics has to be mentioned.
The components of this section include the whole cooling
equipment ranging from cooling fins to enlarge the surface
of the housing to a complex water cooling equipment, which
consists of a pump, hoses, cooling tubes through the motor
and a heat exchanger with a fan for the cooling liquid. Espe-
cially this third pillar is usually highly interconnected with
the surrounding application. According to the definition of
mechatronic modules it does not reduce generality to draw
the model boundaries around the machine in this case, as
it just means that the interconnections cut by these bound-
aries are seen to be sufficiently significant for this modelling
II. The second mechatronic module can be found in the control
system. Here the challenge is not only to achieve the top
level control task, speaking of speed, torque or position con-
trol in general, but also to perform the underlying control
1 FR
n DP
i+1 i+1
Design Parameters
Design Parameters
(Requirement Parameters)
1 FR
n DP
i+2 i+2
Fig. 6. Hierarchy of parameter.
P. Hehenberger et al. / Mechatronics 20 (2010) 864–875 869
tasks of a field oriented control to achieve the desired
dynamic and static behaviour. In the sense of components
this module consists of the control electronics, which is
made up of a micro-controller and several sensors. In a typ-
ical application, current and position sensors are used, but
they can partially be replaced to a limited extent. As a con-
sequence these parts would be implemented as observers
in software. If a micro-controller is used, software is the
main component of this module.
III. Finally, the third mechatronic module is represented by the
power electronics. The task is here to convert the power
input to a multiple phase voltage system using the com-
mands of the control algorithm. An example for a typical
three phase power electronics would be a pulse-width mod-
ulation (PWM) inverter featuring three half bridges [17].
The intra domain specific interconnections of the electro-
mechanical system are shown in Fig. 8. It has to be mentioned that
the interconnections shown here are not necessarily complete and
not ordered in any kind with respect to their importance. It will be
the task of the subsequent modelling process to answer the ques-
tion how this can and should be done.
5.2. Limitations, assumptions and idealizations
Models in the sense of representations of reality exist on vari-
ous levels of abstraction. The appropriate level is always a compro-
mise between simplicity, calculation speed, accuracy and
requirements. Though all criteria have in common to be based on
assumptions and idealizations, it is crucial for the chosen level of
abstraction to define its limitations. Hence, these preliminary set-
tings define quality and validity of the model output and are influ-
enced by requirements and constraints.
Keeping the PMSM drive system in mind, a simple level of mod-
elling could be to define the requirements to average torque and
speed in addition to limitations for current and voltage. This keeps
many design variables free for choice, which are usually selected in
a way to obtain the simplest possible model. Any further require-
ments or limits like for instance costs, dynamic behaviour, reduc-
tion of cogging torque, extremely high speed, etc. would imply
an almost completely different modelling procedure (compare
Section 2).
However, these models show interconnections and dependen-
cies. Thus the next step is to bring these models into a hierarchal
structure. This order reflects the rising number of requirement
parameters, but not necessarily a rise of the complexity of the sys-
tem. The intention is to find the simplest model capable to describe
the system. Therefore, possible idealizations have to be considered
carefully. Note that they can change at different levels to obtain
flexible models.
5.3. Hierarchical design models of a PMSM
It is apparently useful to base the description of hierarchical de-
sign models on a hierarchical structure of design parameters. Cus-
tomer requirements stand at the beginning of the design process,
which are translated into functional requirements to result in a
solution that meets the demands (see Fig. 3). The hierarchical
structure of the selected sets of design parameters leads to differ-
ent definitions of functional requirements for different customer
requirements. It is expected that the demanding customer require-
ments do not directly indicate the way the design parameters have
to be chosen. It is assumed that the simplest model to fulfil the cus-
tomer requirements is the best choice.
5.3.1. Models based on characteristic diagrams and table data
One of the most elementary models possible is to directly try to
express the result in terms of customer requirements. Such a pro-
cedure can be found in the selection of components based on table
data and characteristic curves. Fig. 9 shows model for a PMSM mo-
tor drive based on characteristic diagrams. The customer require-
ments of a certain amount of power P, which should be
transferred via the output shaft at a rotational velocity x, is ex-
pressed as an array of curves of the torque-speed relation of motors
of a selected type series. This simple motor model is on top of the
hierarchy of functional requirements, followed by the selection of
the power electronics and the control unit, because these two com-
ponents do not directly reflect the customers’ requirements. Inter-
connections do occur, but they are limited to the interfaces of these
5.3.2. Simple analytical model
Though it is very common for component selection, it is certain
that the table based model can meet only very limited demands.
Fig. 7. Mechatronic modules of the PMSM drive system.
870 P. Hehenberger et al. / Mechatronics 20 (2010) 864–875
Special applications, tight limitations as well as more sophisticated
control algorithms require a more detailed view on the functional
requirements. Each of the three components need to be described
in more detail. Exemplarily this will be shown here for the
mechanical system.
The customer demands may be expanded by the fact, that a DC
power supply, e.g. a battery, with a voltage level V is provided to
power the system. Therefore the number of windings N has to be
adapted to match the voltage level.
The underlying set of functional requirements for a vector ori-
ented control is shown in Fig. 10. T denotes the shaft torque, x
the rotational speed, k
the motor constant of one winding,
rotor flux, p
the number of pole pairs, N the number of windings,
V and V
the phase voltage and the phase voltage with one winding
respectively, L
the mutual inductance in direct axis and i
amplitude of the phase current in q-axis. The mechanical system
is characterized using the overload factor S, diameter d of the shaft
and the allowable shear stress r
. Temperature is denoted as #.
To keep the model simple it has been assumed that
inductance is independent from the rotor angel,
leakage flux can be neglected,
stator resistance has negligible effects on the stator voltage
(negligible losses).
This model features no loops or feedbacks and therefore no de-
grees of freedom for an optimization. Top of the parameter hierar-
chy is, according to the specifications, the output power of the
drive system. The selection of a different top level parameter is
possible but would lead to another hierarchal model.
5.3.3. Analytical model including optimization possibility
Optimizations need feedback and recursion across hierarchal
levels, functional parameters and therefore degrees of freedom.
This is originated by the need for an optimization, which can be ex-
pressed as a global or local extremum of one of the functional
parameters and may result from additional demands.
As possible customer demand a torque ripple that does not ex-
ert a specified percentage of the average torque may be requested.
Additionally, the motor should be fit for sensorless control even at
zero speed. Furthermore, it should be agreed that if different solu-
tions are possible the one that leads to the simplest and cheapest
mechanical design should be chosen.
These aspects are not covered by the simple analytical model
and consequently need investigations in more detail. The first as-
pect causes the need to model the angular change of magnetic en-
ergy stored in the air gap. Sensorless operation on the other hand is
known to need a specific inductance difference in d- and q-axis of
the rotor, as this is one of the possibilities to achieve observability
even at zero speed. Thus the new model has to express the induc-
tance L as a function of the rotor angle u. Hence, a detailed analysis
of the motor cross section is inevitable.
Moreover, also control needs a closer look, as the quality of a
sensorless operation is coupled with geometrical properties. A
sensorless oriented motor design can simplify the control algo-
rithm. The design potential on both sides can be validated as will
be later shown in principle in Section 4.6.
The functional requirements of the model in Fig. 10 can now be
extended to meet these requirements, but still keeping the original
structure unchanged. As the new demands affect exclusively the
torque production, only this part of the model has to be changed.
One possibility for an analytical approach is the model explained
in [18].
As the fundamental field equations cannot be solved analyti-
cally on an arbitrary motor cross section, simplifications are
needed. They are found in this case in the restriction to linear ef-
fects and ring shaped layers. All functional parts of the motor cross
section are modelled as regions arranged like onion rings. This al-
lows the field equation
¼ À
with the magnetic vector potential A
and the magnetic remanence
and B
to be solved analytically. The problem is now re-
duced to the description of the magnetic field in the different areas.
Two important effects in these regions are identified to significantly
influence torque ripple and inductance variation. As rotors with sur-
face mounted magnets show hardly any angular change of induc-
tance, a possible choice is a rotor with interior permanent
magnets, as shown in Fig. 11. These rotors generally feature mag-
netic saturation bars, which cannot be modelled using a linear
Keeping the ease to manufacture in mind, a system of concen-
trated windings is chosen, that can be externally wound and are
pushed on straight teeth without pole shoes (Fig. 11a). However,
Fig. 8. Example of domain specific interconnections within the electro-mechanical
Fig. 9. Simple model based on characteristic diagrams.
P. Hehenberger et al. / Mechatronics 20 (2010) 864–875 871
a layout without pole shoes generally increases torque pulsation
and cogging torque. Therefore, the effect of the stator slots on
the air gap field cannot be neglected as well.
According to [18] it is possible to model these two facts inde-
pendently from one another as their nonlinear effects are locally
limited. An equivalent magnetic circuit model shows that the sat-
uration bars can be modelled as small substitute permanent mag-
nets with linear characteristics. The effect of slotting is inserted
using a Schwarz–Christoffel transformation of the air gap field.
Hence, it results in linear models with nonlinear parameters for
these two layers as shown in Fig. 12.
Thus the assumption of linearity is valid and the magnetic field
equations can be solved. As a result all geometry parameters like
diameters and width of the stator teeth, back iron and permanent
magnets have now a direct influence on torque and therefore form
a feedback loop.
Assumptions and simplifications still apply, but on a different
level of hierarchy. Now linearity in combination with ideal mate-
rial parameters, except for the specially treated areas, symmetry,
and the reduction to a 2D problem are necessary.
New or more detailed demands lead to a continuing refinement
of one or more of the functional requirements. As torque is the
product of the field provided by the permanent magnets and the
stator current, it is desirable to find the specific combination of
both that produces minimum losses. Usually this leads to the use
of rather large amounts of magnetic material. However, there are
limits due to iron saturation and an effect of demagnetization of
the permanent magnets. The influences of rotor geometry on
demagnetization are investigated in [19]. Accordingly a clear state-
ment, based on analytic calculations, can be given to estimate the
working point of the magnet. The parameters investigated are the
number of pole pairs, the influence of the magnetic cross section,
the air gap in combination with rotor eccentricity, the layout of
saturation bars and armature reaction.
5.3.4. Finite element model including nonlinear effects
As third level of model hierarchy, finite element based model-
ling is mentioned. If the demands concerning torque pulsation
and cogging torque are seen as factors of major importance for
the system, further details of geometrical design gain importance.
This can no longer be described in a simple analytical way and
makes numerical investigations such as finite elements analyses
inevitable. Especially nonlinear effects like saturation can now be
easily handled.
It can be shown that the inductance of the machine is not only
dependent on the rotor angle, but also on the phase current. This
leads to load dependent torque pulsations as well as load depen-
dent inductance variations with negative effects on both the
smoothness of torque [20] and the ability to observe the rotor an-
Fig. 10. Simple analytic model of the electro-magnetic system.
(a) (b)
Fig. 11. Motor cross sections that show different inductances in d- and q-axis.
872 P. Hehenberger et al. / Mechatronics 20 (2010) 864–875
gle at different start-up conditions [21]. These effects are strongly
coupled with the actual layout of the machine cross-section.
Finite element calculations eliminate the problems of model-
ling, reduce the number of restricting conditions but still will not
work with at least some assumptions. These usually means a
restriction to a 2D analysis wherever possible to limit calculation
time, as well as some assumptions concerning material properties
and interconnections with other domains like direct magnetic-
thermal, or magnetic-mechanical couplings.
While the interrelationship between electric and magnetic cir-
cuits for a dynamic calculation can be expressed in rather simple
analytical formulas as given in Fig. 10, it is rather complex to set
up a model incorporating the reaction of the magnetic nonlineari-
ties on the dynamic behaviour. The model in [22] shows an ap-
proach to extract a completely nonlinear dynamic model from
2D finite element calculations saving most of the originally neces-
sary calculation time. This can be described in terms of a hierarchal
structure as shown in Fig. 13.
A recursion exists due to geometric aspects, which have not
only an impact on the torque generation, but also a connection
to the control module, as geometry strongly affects angular induc-
tance variation. Moreover, the hierarchy of models within a hierar-
chical structure is clearly visible. The quasi-static finite element
(FE) simulation serves as a model to obtain a precise nonlinear
description of the flux distribution W. Later on, an optimized ver-
sion of these results is used to set up a nonlinear dynamic model.
5.4. Validation of the couplings between domains
An analysis of the different coupling parameters, allows to eval-
uate the interactions between the different domains. With the pre-
sented Mechatronic Design Model, a method is available that helps
to analyze and evaluate functional requirements and design
parameters of possible concepts and solutions. All couplings be-
tween the several mechatronic domains (discipline pillars) are de-
scribed in a superior data platform (coupling level). According to
Fig. 10 the interaction between the mechanical and the electrical
domain is analyzed. The considered coupling parameter DP is the
torque T.
In the mechanical domain it is limited by the diameter d of the
rotor, the allowed maximum shear stress r
and the overload fac-
tor S via the formula
From the mechanical point of view all parameters have a design
range given by the different possibly used materials (r
T min
, r
T max
by geometrical constraints like the size of the bearings (d
, d
and the variation of safety factor according to different application
Fig. 12. Incorporating specific models for layers with complex characteristics.
Fig. 13. Hierarchal structure of a part of the nonlinearly modelled electro-magnetic
P. Hehenberger et al. / Mechatronics 20 (2010) 864–875 873
areas (S
, S
). As a result of these considerations the mechanics-
specific design range can be defined by the limits T
mech, max
mech, min
(referred to as DH
In the electrical domain the parameter torque T is determined
by the number of pole pairs p
, the motor constant of one winding
, the number of windings N and the amplitude of the phase cur-
rent in q-axis i
From the electrical point of view all parameters have a design
range given by the properties of the motors (k
1 min
, k
1 max
, p
z min
z max
, N
, N
) and the capability of the power electronics (i
, i
sq max
). As a result of these considerations the electric-specific
design range can be defined by the limits T
elect, max
and T
elect, min
ferred to as DH
In Fig. 14 the interaction between the two domains (repre-
sented e.g. by two design teams) when defining a single design
parameter DP is sketched. The couplings can be classified into
three types.
For type 1, the two domains compete for the design parameter
DP and so the design range of this coupling parameter is the inter-
section of the two domain-specific design ranges of this parameter.
This type of parameter will appear most frequently in practice. In
the case of type 2, the different design ranges have no overlap.
Hence, a successful determination of the coupling parameter is
not possible, which results in a new design iteration, where the de-
sign ranges have to be modified, e.g. by changes in the principal
solutions or adaptation of some requirements. Type 3 illustrates
the contrary case where the design ranges of both domains coin-
cide. This case turns out to have the maximum potential for opti-
mization and improvement of the mechatronic product.
In [23] the characteristic quantities of a heterogeneous elec-
tronic/mechanical design with the definitions of the different types
of Degrees of Mechatronic Coupling (DoMC) for a Mechatronic
Module are analyzed by using the Mechatronic Pillar Design
The relative Degree of Mechatronic Coupling (DoMC
) evalu-
ates the ‘‘intensity” of couplings in a selected design structure
independently from the size of the structure (normalized from 0
to 1). First of all, it makes sense to define two ranges for the values
of a coupling parameter. The domain-specific design range DH
> 0
characterizes the possible range of design parameter DP
with re-
spect to pillar j without consideration of the other pillars. The
resulting design range DD
P0 of the DP
is determined as the
intersection of the domain-specific design ranges.
Derived from this DoMC the Coupling Intensity CI for the cou-
pling parameter DP
can be described for two domains (e.g.
mechanics and electrical system) according to Fig. 14.
Þ ¼ 2 À
If the resulting design range DD
is zero (type 2), CI reaches its
maximum value, namely
Þ ¼ 2 ð7Þ
In this case the metric describes the number of necessary (uni-
directional) communication channels between the two domains
involved. If each domain is represented by a specific design team
of a project organization, the half of this number may be inter-
preted as the number of necessary (bilateral i.e. bidirectional) coor-
dination exchanges between the different groups. The Coupling
Intensity describes the density of interactions between the differ-
ent domains by analysing the different coupling parameters. This
helps to evaluate to complexity of different design concepts.
5.5. Reflections to the case study
The example of the design of a PMSM shows the advantages of
analyzing the design process in a hierarchical way. In contrast to a
traditional sequential design process, the parameters needed for an
integrated mechatronic design are identified and moved to the
superior mechatronic layer. This allows to sort the necessary
parameters and to rank the involved domains according to their
impact on the design process.
As a result it not only facilitates the view over the necessary de-
sign parameters, but also brings up the relevant set of parameters
at an earlier stage of the design process, as it would be the case in
traditional design.
At this stage of the design process the hierarchal structure of
the design parameters exhibits its strength. It allows the models
to be set up in a way suitable to achieve an optimal result with re-
spect to the mechatronic context. It has to be kept in mind that the
process of modelling may lead to different results, with respect to
the hierarchy of the selected functional parameters. The hierarchy
itself can be implemented using different models, which is shown
using as example the conceptual design of a PMSM. The selection
of the appropriate model directly results from this structure.
Analyzing the interconnections of the functional parameters en-
ables an easy qualification on how a product should be designed to
reduce unnecessary iteration loops. A systematic tool is given in
Section 5.4, which is able to evaluate a selected set of functional
parameters with respect to the quality of their couplings.
6. Conclusion and future research
This paper presents an approach for using hierarchical models
in the design process of mechatronic systems, which are as a mat-
ter of principle multi domain systems. Demanding mechatronic
solutions include an optimized result spanning various domains.
Design Team
Design Team
Requirements to the
Coupling Design Parameter
Type 1
= H
= D
Type 2
Type 3
Fig. 14. Couplings between domains.
874 P. Hehenberger et al. / Mechatronics 20 (2010) 864–875
The utilization and proper combination of solution principles from
different mechatronic domains allow an extended variety and
quality of principal solutions. Using traditional design methods
this often leads to several iteration steps concerning the whole de-
sign process. In the case of a mechatronic system these iterations
are especially time consuming as they include intense communica-
tion across domain boundaries.
A solution is found using hierarchical models, which are very
important tools to handle the increased complexity of such inte-
grated design tasks. However, they cannot avoid iteration loops
completely, but are able to shift the majority of them from the
mechatronic level down to the intra-domain level. This allows to
set the course with respect to mechatronic points of view very
early in the design process.
According to the increasing degree of detailing during the de-
sign process, also the degree of details of the corresponding models
grows. This leads to a hierarchy of models as well as of the param-
eters quantifying the properties mapped by these models. The spe-
cific ‘‘views of the object” represent the relevant phenomena/
effects of interest such as geometry, dynamics, stability or material
and are used as an interface for the design engineer during his
work. The authors believe that especially this point defines a major
chance of success of mechatronic products on the market.
Scientific advisory support was kindly given by the Austrian
Center of Competence in Mechatronics (ACCM). This COMET/K2
program is aided by the funds of the state Austria and the provin-
cial government of Upper Austria. The authors thank all involved
partners for their support.
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