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SYSTEMS ENGINEERING IN AN

AUTOMOTIVE E/E DESIGN WORLD

DR. NICK SMITH, PHD, MENTOR GRAPHICS

ABSTRACT
Demand for increased functionality in automotive electrical/electronic (E/E) systems is
being propelled by both customers and various governmental regulations and
requirements. This demand for more capabilities also introduces new challenges for
OEMs who are responsible for implementing these functions. Of course, the cost of
system development and manufacturing are considerable, but there are challenges
beyond cost that the OEM must deal with, such as increased weight, reliability and
quality concerns, exponentially-increasing complexity, and the government
requirements. From the point of view of the electrical system platform as a whole, it
provides the unique role of integrating all the individual E/E systems. When integrated,
unanticipated problems can emerge that require design modifications. Often, these are
discovered way down the design path, which results in delays in the program that can
lead to missed deadlines and costly rework. The increasing complexity, caused by the
number of configurations offered to customers, and cost of errors point to the value of
tackling this problem using a systems engineering approach. The systems engineering
methodology should allow OEMs to maintain product quality, reduce overall costs,
manage changes, and meet time-to-market goals. This paper will examine some of
these problems in more detail before exploring how system engineering can be used
to overcome these challenges.

This paper was originally presented at SAE World Congress,
April 2015. It is reprinted with permission of SAE.

E L E C T R I C A L & W I R E H A R N E S S D E S I G N

w w w . m e n t o r . c o m

The paper leverages our knowledge of how electrical systems are increasing. of an electrical function. verification and implementation of the solution can enhance confidence in deploying advanced electrical systems rather than create new areas of concern. and interconnected through five system busses. and function. Next. co m 2 [ x] . which can translate into thousands. the logical designs are associated with a mechanical definition of the overall vehicle and interconnected with a physical wiring system. the more the complexity of both the design and the manufacturing of the design increase. equipped with all the latest features. but also merging. and even a crash. the automobile has become the most sophisticated piece of consumer electronics available. to much more serious consequences such as loss of a safety-critical function. as shown in Figure 1. Some complex functions are distributed among several electric control units (ECUs). or failure. That embedded software in most cars can contain as many as 100 million lines of code. Each individual platform configuration has its own unique harness. With this paper we highlight that the technology for definition.Systems Engineering in an Automotive E/E Design World The dilemma for automotive companies is about balancing risk to brand image of recalls with falling behind in the adoption of customer centric technology and optimizing existing methods of delivering electrical systems. w w w. COMPLEXITY COMPOUNDED BY CONFIGURATIONS The more systems added to the vehicle. As the number of circuits. which is ultimately partitioned into harnesses. These factors are corroborated by the findings of leading analysts and give the reader a clear view of how they can define a plan for adopting these methods in an integrated and managed risk approach. into individual features and then. they can have as much as 10 miles and around 200 pounds of wiring. ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS CONTRIBUTE WEIGHT AND COST TO THE VEHICLE Wiring harnesses and electrical/electronic systems in today’s automobiles have added significantly to both weight and cost of the completed vehicle. reliability. While it may be a surprise to many. and emissions legislative requirements such as ISO 26262 and the Euro 5/6 emission standards. The number of possible configurations of electrical systems has exploded with the plethora of features offered to customers to raise value (and profit) and the need to meet safety. even millions. first. The result of the sneak circuit can be as benign as a bewildered driver. so does the opportunity for unanticipated problems — such as sneak circuits — where particular combinations of switches and loads can cause inadvertent operation. Engineers are presented with a set of requirements associated with the overall platform which they decompose through several stages. an astonishing number of electronic modules are required to provide the features and functions that the customers demand and regulations require. Those luxury cars can have as many as 70 ECEs producing more than 800 functions. busses and functions increase. The increased weight and cost of the wiring forces electrical platform designers to examine tradeoffs to arrive at the best balance of cost. each step in the design is multiplied with each configuration. In today’s vehicles. Those functions are clustered into systems and allocated to physical devices or software. of harnesses. the functions that implement the features. With that sophistication comes the opportunity to configure features in a multitude of ways. During the electrical design process. m e nto r. This is most true with luxury cars. With those feature-laden cars. weight. with the needs of global legislation created by ISO and others.

m e nto r. electronic component design. and mechanical design. Systems engineering can offer relief to those overwhelmed by modern vehicle development. inputs. The issues discussed here are increasing design and manufacturing cycle time while competition is increasing the pressure to build the ideal electrical system faster. specific to each unique vehicle configuration. abstraction.Systems Engineering in an Automotive E/E Design World Figure 1: This diagram illustrates that adding customer-selectable features to the automobile can quickly result in an incredibly large number of possible configurations. cost. Substantial evidence shows the effectiveness of the systems engineering paradigm in managing complexity. this means linking engineering domains as diverse as embedded software design. These methods simply cannot meet today’s time. OEMs are responsible for enabling efficient vehicle servicing across its life. This configuration explosion affects the entire data flow from requirements to service documentation. coupled with legislation and supply chain challenges. Today’s cycle time is too slow to compete effectively and meet demand. electrical distribution system design. are giving impetus to process change. adding months to the design cycle. and outputs of the particular stage. Electrical design engineers need to be able to share information with each other and with other “islands” to improve cross-team and cross-discipline communication. Once sold. They need to be able to more easily understand the context and effects of changes so that they can be implemented faster and with fewer misunderstandings. and competitive pressures. and interconnection. The process of creating a detailed wiring design from the higher-level system design is repetitive and time-consuming. Communication has often been cumbersome. requiring conversions and/or manual data re-entry as the input to each step. Laws are increasingly demanding that this data. Adding these consumer-demanded electronics functions. each step of vehicle design has been an “island” with its own design tools and a complex local dialect that describes the components. SYSTEMS ENGINEERING METHODOLOGY Until very recently. with several key characteristics: holism. progressive integration. w w w. be available to all dealers (not just the OEM network). Holism means that a problem is viewed in its entirety rather than as a set of isolated activities. resulting in redundancy and delays. In the vehicle E/E context. co m 3 [ x] .

A product is first visualized at a very high level and requirements are generated. then ECUs. a logical design is done. Next. Then. the features to functions. electronic components. The right side of the V represents integration of parts and their validation. components are designed at the most detailed point. and design automation. m e nto r. Transitions between abstractions can be automated through machine executable specifications (a process known as synthesis). w w w. and to apply the systems “V” model in a multidisciplinary approach that covers each stage of the life cycle. Then. with repeated verification steps until the complete system is assembled. co m 4 [ x] . requirements tracking. the design is “re-composed” by building PCBs. managing the design and changes. the bottom of the V. the harnesses. documentation. Increasing complexity. into the final product. while full traceability is maintained. and identifying problems early so that solutions are quick and inexpensive requires a great deal of automation to deal with the complicated problems in a reasonable amount of time.Systems Engineering in an Automotive E/E Design World THE V DIAGRAM OF SYSTEMS DESIGN Engineering designs have a fairly standard design life cycle. With this approach. Then those requirements are decomposed to features. and wire harnesses. from requirement to component implementation. These components are then progressively integrated. data at a high level of abstraction is progressively decomposed and enriched to lower abstractions until buildable components (software blocks. In systems engineering. the design life cycle is often represented using a “V Diagram”. Figure 2 shows a complete V diagram with the steps enumerated. In figure 2. followed by a physical design within the constraints of the platform. etc. etc. Figure 2: The systems engineering methodology can be visualized with this V Diagram. A solution to this challenge is to implement a systems engineering methodology with advanced software that provides digital continuity. the left side of the V represents the decomposition of requirements and creation of system specifications.) become fully defined.

co m 5 [ x] . the system can be initially designed from a logical perspective. Software automation to implement systems engineering should provide a number of tools for the users. The software will “mature” the data as the design process progresses. Figure3: With automation. including one from Mentor Graphics.Systems Engineering in an Automotive E/E Design World AUTOMATION IS KEY There are software packages available to implement the systems engineering methodology. allowing “correct by construction” design creation. This approach enables manufacturers to capture and develop their competitive intellectual property. This software enables a systems engineering paradigm. shown in Figure 3. allowing a task that could take weeks to be accomplished in a few hours. m e nto r. System integration is rapid. w w w. This reduces electrical design times and costs while letting designers explore alternative architectures. The software can automatically generate accurate wiring designs for all allowable configurations at the platform level. The rest of this section describes the necessary tools that the package should deliver. PLATFORM-LEVEL ABSTRACTION Software should use a generative approach in which wiring designs are automatically generated from higher level inputs.

m e nto r. Creating thousands. changes applicable to the electrical distribution system can be coordinated with those required in other disciplines to fully implement the change: incorporating changes efficiently. They can create detailed and accurate analysis of a wide range of layout concepts within a few hours. or ALM tools. sometimes millions.Systems Engineering in an Automotive E/E Design World TOOL INTEGRATION The software should provide tool suite that is a complete electrical design package and fits into the larger ecosystem. Figure 4: System engineering software should allow easy comparison of tradeoffs to allow engineers to quickly determine the most optimum design. co m 6 [ x] . ensuring that any value-add work previously done at lower levels of abstraction is retained. Changes are propagated in a controlled and intelligent fashion. The software should also enforces specified constraints using design rule checks. PLM. but with the software tools. Studying tradeoffs quickly and accurately saves money and weight on every vehicle. Better design quality cuts costs and risks. component layout and wiring can be optimized simultaneously across thousands of builds across a platform program which results in better and cheaper designs. With tight integration. DESIGN OPTIMIZATION Engineers should be able to model harness costs to the smallest detail and create reports for comparing the costs of various design choices in minutes (Figure 4). saving time and supporting concurrent design. TRACEABILITY Users should be able to design process controls to establish verifiable and traceable release processes and design revisions. w w w. MANAGING CHANGE The automation should allow multiple levels of abstraction and manage links between them so that changes can be propagated throughout the various levels. It should be designed from the outset with an IT architecture that facilitates integration with third-party MCAD. of electrical designs for customer variants is daunting.

the recipient agrees to make every reasonable effort to prevent unauthorized use of this information. designs can be tested before the hardware stage and a problem can be identified early. It spans process stages ranging from the earliest design effort (where electrical functional requirements and physical requirements are captured) to implementation.Systems Engineering in an Automotive E/E Design World FIND AND FIX PROBLEMS EARLY IN THE DESIGN The best way to discover problems and provide their solution is early on in the design. The software tool suite must support this process by enabling and imposing digital continuity. provided that this entire notice appears in all copies. MATURING DATA DURING THE DESIGN Harness development is a transition point in the vehicle design and manufacturing process. At that point. c o m ©2016 Mentor Graphics Corporation. helping to manage the complexity and challenge of ever-increasing electronics in vehicle designs. The deliverable is a completed harness product with thorough documentation to accompany it. MF 4-16 Z48330-W . when it’s less expensive to fix. With simulation. at a huge cost to the manufacturer’s reputation and profit. Implementing a systems engineering approach can help vehicle manufacturers maintain quality and profitability into the future. changes can be made quickly and the cost associated with the fix is generally orders of magnitude than had the problem been discovered late in the process. This document contains information that is proprietary to Mentor Graphics Corporation and may be duplicated in whole or in part by the original recipient for internal business purposes only. the Airbus wiring failure in the A380 jumbo jet that led to a huge financial loss could fundamentally be described as an inability to manage digital continuity and the flow of information between mechanical and electrical engineers. SUMMARY Failure to recognize the special role that E/E systems play can lead to catastrophic results such as recalls and delays that cost manufacturers dearly. All trademarks mentioned in this document are the trademarks of their respective owners. call us or visit: w w w . Worse it could have been avoided by the integration and verification processes on the right side of the systems engineering V model. It’s the environment in which critical design data matures into a buildable product. For the latest product information. In accepting this document. Software should provide rigorous failure-mode effect analysis to identify problems that might only be found by a customer. For example. all rights reserved. m e n t o r . Mentor Graphics Capital tools enable successful change management by providing digital continuity and design automation throughout the electrical platform.