Is there a (unique) conceptual model for Systems Engineering?

The short answer is that there is no unique conceptual model for systems engineering. But there are several ones that will be listed hereafter!

Before going further, a conceptual model is at core of Model-based Systems Engineering (MBSE). MBSE shall integrate different views or domains (CAD, CAM, thermal, …) of the same systems in a coherent and consistent way. Thus the document-centric approach is replaced by a model-centric one. It is crucial for the development of systems such as in mechatronic as it is hard to develop different domains independently.

SysML is a model you must know, especially if you are reading us. But SysML is said to be quite generic by industrial practitioners, probably too much. Indeed domain-specific engineers have a hard time to adapt vocabulary and learn how to use SysML in their daily-job. More specific Domain Specific Languages (DSL) would be preferred! SysML is normalised by the OMG.

AP233 is a data model targeted at the exchange of systems engineering data between diverse tools. It could be considered as a neutral file format exchange but could also be used as a foundation for a CASE tool. It is an application module of the ISO 10303. The ISO10303-233 is not yet finalized

The OMG SE DSIG working group, INCOSE and the AP233 development team are working together to align them.

The AFIS, French chapter of the INCOSE, has also worked on writing such a model. The second version of the Modèle de données was written in 2005.

MODAF and DoDAF are architecture framework. UPDM unified them as a UML profile. Due to its profile nature it may not be an answer compared to a DSL. Anyway the model behind the profile is worth considering.

Finally browsing the web for information or conceptual models, you could find other proposals especially in the research literature such as this thesis by J. J. Simpson. This thesis propose a meta-model inspired by existing standards altogether with a process called CCFRAT.

Regarding links to domain specific models (CAD, CAM, PDM,…), AP233 might well be the only answer. Indeed AP233 is one of many application modules all written in the same specification language (ISO EXPRESS language). They all build on the product_view concept. Different views could well share the same properties (for instance weight or outer_width). Other models do not prescribe or provide a way to synchronize with other domain specific models.

Despite MBSE being a hot topic — INCOSE 2020 vision insists on it —, very few tools provide an integrated database or are able to connect to one. And you? On which standard/format do you invest or bet on? Does your company have a plan about this issue? Do you think it is possible to solve models integration and consistency in your domain? Leave a comment to tell us more.

By |2016-12-31T18:07:04+00:00September 20th, 2011|sysml|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Loïc Fejoz October 5, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Ho, while talking about architecture frameworks, I forgot NAF the NATO Architecture Framework [1]. It is derived from DoDAF. In France, we have AGATE [2]. It is also derived from DoDAF and MoDAF and is promoted by the DGA. See a complete list on wikipedia [3].

    Moreover there is yet another one but not formalised as such. Indeed the Body of Knowledge and Curriculum to Advance Systems Engineering, aka BKCASE or SEBOK [4] [5], try to define a common understanding of System Engineering with a glossary and references. Thus it could be interesting to formalise this knowledge in a (formal) ontology or meta-model…

    [5] Guide to the Systems Engineering Body of Knowledge (SEBoK)

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