Posted 10 December 2020 in AI, Blog, Engineering.

Concurrent design provides a powerful design methodology for the early stages of projects that involve multiple engineering and business disciplines, providing significant savings in cost and time. And there are more benefits to come over the next few years, including broader interconnectivity with other applications and later engineering phases, and the introduction of advanced features enabled by artificial intelligence (AI).

It has been in use for over 20 years. Often associated with projects in the space sector, it has also proved beneficial in the early assessment and design stages of other complex projects such as luxury yachts, naval vessels, factories and planes, and is now being used to assess systems of systems.

This methodology already provides a structured way to exchange knowledge and data, and enables users to verify and validate requirements at a very early stage. The software platforms used, such as RHEA’s CDP4®, have been written specifically as multi-user tools because concurrent design is a multi-stakeholder approach. However, getting everyone to work together cannot guarantee that the final one or two designs are the best possible ones.

For this reason, a team from RHEA Group, Siemens and OHB System AG has been studying the opportunities presented by integrating AI into the process, combining Siemens’ single-user AI application with RHEA’s multi-user software to create a powerful platform that could generate many more potential solutions than humans could practically achieve.

This is a condensed version of an article in our OpenSpace 27 magazine. Subscribe to read the full story, including an interview with the Head of the Systems & Concurrent Engineering Section at the European Space Agency, Ilaria Roma.

Generative concurrent design using AI

In ‘generative concurrent design’, stakeholders produce an initial one or two workable designs using the standard concurrent design approach. AI is then used to analyze multiple combinations of the building blocks and parameters for each design in order to produce as many as 100 new versions.

The team assesses the AI outputs according to agreed priorities, chooses which variant solutions to continue working with, and refines them manually. They can then run further computational analysis to produce new optimized options.

Enhancing the ecosystem

Projects are also underway to further enable the sharing of engineering models and associated data between various software tools. In the space sector, this is being addressed through a programme call the Digital Engineering Hub Pathfinder.

Under a contract with ESTEC, RHEA is working with a number of partners to develop interfaces across the concurrent design ecosystem in accordance with ECSSE-TM-10-25A – the European technical memorandum that defines recommendations for concurrent, model-based data exchange for the early phases of engineering design.

Although this programme was initiated before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it could provide distinct advantages for concurrent design projects that now have to be carried out with some or all participants at remote locations, as anything that improves data exchange will enhance the verification and validation of the requirements and proposed solutions.

 

OpenSpace 27 Cover

This is a condensed version of an article in our OpenSpace 27 magazine. Subscribe to read the full story, including an interview with the Head of the Systems & Concurrent Engineering Section at the European Space Agency, Ilaria Roma.

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