Integrate sustainability into product development with requirements-based engineering


Hedley Apperly, VP and GM Systems and Software Engineering at PTC, examines why requirements-based engineering is the hidden weapon to achieve sustainability in product development.

The sustainable performance of a product is becoming more and more important and is now considered as essential as traditional design criteria, such as size, weight, cost and performance.

It is no longer considered a nice addition, in fact it is fundamental and should be integrated from the start. The challenge is to close the loop so that we ensure that all requirements are built into the process from the outset and carried out throughout the design and engineering process and verified by valid testing throughout the life cycle engineering.

In today’s landscape, we use a mixture of CAD, PLM and development software to try to define requirements and this approach makes it increasingly difficult to collaborate effectively. All of that will change with Codebeamer, a product we recently added to our portfolio when PTC acquired Intland.

This web-deployed product focuses on requirements engineering, risk management, and test management linked and traced together. It is powerful in areas such as agility, facilitating contemporary approaches to design and integration with technologies such as GitHub and Jenkins for CI/CD pipelines. It also provides numerous out-of-the-box templates that feature ready-made processes for critical Aerospace and Defense (DO-178/DO-254), Automotive (ISO 226262) and other standards. industry standards.

Facilitate collaboration and close the loop

Rather than relying solely on ad hoc documentation and then jumping straight to design, PTC can now provide a complete initial “requirements engineering” environment that leverages the power of Agile.

People can work together and you can have a range of stakeholders. People with different points of view can document these requirements together so that when you move into the design, CAD or software environment, whether you save in ALM or PLM, you can refer back to these requirements until until you are satisfied.

The critical capability, not only for the software but also for the entire product, is the environment to define the product requirements. Historically, or in other contexts, this is done via email, Word documents or spreadsheets. Using a database-centric, multi-user environment, you can define requirements from all stakeholders, track them, and make sure you haven’t missed any.

It is not only the sizes and colors of the parts that can be followed for example, but also any requirements for sustainability or ecology. This means you can have stakeholders for product design, safety, renewal, green and environmental concerns upstream, all contributing to the outcome.

Then, in the background, we create tests for the product that ensure those requirements are met – in essence, we create a virtuous loop to ensure that what has been implemented and delivered meets the requirements of those stakeholders. ‘origin.

Switch to requirements-based testing

Part of closing this loop is validating that the end product meets requirements and is put through testing. Traditionally, you would take a back-end testing approach, but the problem with that is that you can’t test for quality; it has to be designed.

Creating these tests from the start and linking them together and not having a separate QA discipline isolated from the designers means you are proving the requirements. It goes both ways; you want to make sure you’re not only testing everything you need, but also not shipping things you don’t need.

It’s both about building the right system and building it right. Reviewing system requirements during the planning phase of a testing effort reduces rework, errors, and defects.

The link between requirements, design and testing is essential. When defining a need for a product, such as the stopping distance of a car, several parameters combine to enable this. The best time to create the test plans for the whole product is when you are defining these requirements, because they are directly related to each other.

When you do this in Codebeamer, you can create the tests as blueprints from the start when you define the requirements, and they’re linked and plotted together, so you know which test is testing which requirement. First you validate the test to verify that it is valid and meets the test requirements, then later you check the product and ensure that it matches the test. So proving that the product does what the stakeholders want you to do.

Integration with Windchill

PTC already has a strong PLM solution in Windchill and Codebeamer ALM, and a requirements-based engineering approach complements this offering. Additionally, we are currently working on extending Codebeamer with the Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration (OSLC) that Windchill already has, so that it can connect to the PTC Digital Thread in the near future.

This means that you will be able to link requirements to parts that meet the requirements. You will also be able to view a part in Windchill PLM and, without leaving it, see the requirements it meets. This can be the type of material, where it is used, the supply, down to the size you need and the performance you need. There is a direct link within a shared database, even though Windchill and Codebeamer are separate tools.

Take a car for example. It will have high level requirements such as the total cost, which is a sum of all subpart costs. The same goes for weight, as this impacts the range and acceleration of the car, as well as the carbon footprint.

Codebeamer is independent of requirement type. Customers are already using this capability for fuel consumption or power consumption on the car and range. We have already worked with customers like BMW, Mercedes and VW and some of our commitments are more about the product, and some are more about the environment outside of the product.

However, this can now be extended to control a product’s carbon footprint by making it a requirement from the start. This will allow you to measure the addition to the footprint of all the supplied parts that go together to build the car. Then, using requirements-based testing, there will be a test at the end that ensures that the sum of those parts meets the requirements built into the original design.

As we move towards a net-zero future, the ability to verify a product’s carbon footprint will become increasingly critical and enable manufacturers to meet consumer sustainability demands.

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