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The SAP EPD solutions portfolio set against the V model and the PLM phases
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10.02.2021

What can SAP’s Cloud Platform Solution SAP EPD do for You?

Leveraging SAP EPD Engineering to integrate requirements management and system modeling into your PLM process

SAP Enterprise Product Development (EPD) is SAP’s new solution for requirements management and requirements development across system and enterprise boundaries. In this article, SAP PLM expert Christian Markus tells us about the potentials of integrated requirements management and the scope of SAP’s solutions portfolio in this field.


The future of PLM?

A great deal of hope attaches to requirements engineering and model-based systems engineering (MBSE) when it comes to exploiting new potentials, not just in the product development process (PDP) but across the entire product lifecycle.

Publications and industry events have been addressing these issues for quite some time. Taking a more professional look at them takes these topics forward from a scientific point of view, but it also nurtures the concern that it could create new silos – in a field where we hope to eliminate precisely those silos.

To prevent silo formation, we need not only requirements management and systems engineering, but overarching processes and best-possible integration of the respective tools into the IT landscape.

As an SAP cloud platform solution, SAP EPD offers a variety of benefits and state-of-the-art functions – particularly, but notably not exclusively, in conjunction with SAP S/4Hana and/or SAP ECC systems.

SAP EPD Engineering also integrates requirements generation, requirements management, system modeling and test management into a portfolio of highly compatible solutions, briefly outlined here:

The SAP EPD solutions portfolio set against the V model and the PLM phases

The SAP EPD solutions portfolio set against the V model and the PLM phases

 

  1. SAP EPD Requirements Acquisition fulfills two main functions within the EPD portfolio. For one, it offers potentials for integrating the fuzzy front end, i.e. the idea generation and formulation phase, into the requirements engineering process related to new products. Also, it promotes structured collation of feedback, experience and data from the product lifecycle for purposes of continual downstream development – as is required in a closed-loop PLM approach.
  2. SAP EPD Requirements Management and System Modeling is the centerpiece of the EPD portfolio, acting as a solution for requirements management and model-based systems engineering. It relies on the modeling language SysML, which has become well established as a near standard for domain-independent development.
  3. SAP EPD Test Management supports the verification and validation of systems. In addition to definition of test cases, organization of test execution and documentation of test results, SAP EPD Test Management ensures horizontal traceability throughout the PDP (product development process) from requirements to actual test case – and on to the testing object, represented e.g. by bills of materials in the SAP System.
  4. SAP EPD Collaboration supports workflow-based collaboration in product development – and beyond. Additionally, it offers wide-ranging options for data and information transport associated with these processes. Integration of structured data from the ERP, integrated file management and integrated redlining capability all serve to promote collaboration across system and enterprise boundaries.

    All artefacts of these solutions can be integrated to form a traceability model which radically facilitates reproducibility and information procurement throughout the PDP.

  5. SAP EPD Visualization relies on 3D models as the core information procurement resource. To this end, the virtual entities of the model are linked e.g. with requirements or materials, giving the user visual access to this information. Analyses, e.g. on the object’s maturity level, can be visualized as well.
  6. SAP EPD Connected Products integrates IoT data, simulation tools and software development into the SAP EPD Portfolio. It also provides Ansys integration, enabling highly individualized product development Scenarios.

Clearly, these solutions represent substantial expansions to the SAP EPD portfolio. In future articles, we will take a more detailed look at the opportunities inherent in these SAP EPD components.

In our previous article on SAP EPD – then still known as SAP Intelligent Product Design (SAP IPD) – we focused primarily on MBSE. For present purposes, I would like to have a more detailed look at how SAP EPD can promote integrated requirements management.

What SAP EPD does on its own is provide consistent support for the downward and upward path along the V model (see illustration above).

Additional potentials can be exploited by integrating upstream and downstream PLM phases – i.e. upstream via idea generation for new or evolutionary product development, and downstream from handover to maintenance and disassembly planning.

I would like to examine both of these aspects. Let’s walk through the PLM phases in the illustration, from left to right.

A less fuzzy fuzzy front end

The fuzzy front end is all about how we arrive at ideas for new products. This can happen in any number of ways; it may be a more or less structured process or occur spontaneously and creatively. With the right kind of integration and process design, we can use Requirements Acquisition to collect and consolidate the impulses relevant to us without limiting creative processes. The requirements that have been identified can then be directly integrated with our requirements management tools. This gives us a better understanding of how requirements have come about – not just with regard to content, but also in process terms. Here too, standardization is the first step towards optimization.

One can also use this information to create a closed-loop PLM – by integrating data and experience from the product lifecycle with the requirements for the next product generation. Thus, if the service technician wonders ‘what were they thinking?’, the product manager will know about it. Also, it offers an easy means for orienting a product along a continuous digital thread, both in development and in real-world use. The data needed for such a process can come from an IoT application or be generated by user feedback – all possibilities are available. But exploiting their full potential is always a matter of integrating data sources (and, for large data volumes, machine learning algorithms), providing the necessary UIs (user interfaces) and defining relevant processes across the entire PLM spectrum.

Ideally, these processes will also be integrated with SAP ePPM project management, which enables high-level planning of procedures, resource allocation and costing. And finally, we want to integrate our activities into our business portfolio.

Doing the right thing – the right way

Now that we have arrived at our requirements – which require us to do the right thing – we have to ensure vertical traceability (down the left side of the V model) and horizontal traceability (between the requirements and the respective test cases on the right side of the V model). This lets us do the right thing the right way. By integrating requirements and test management into a single solution portfolio, SAP EPD offers an out-of-the-box path to this goal.

Things get really exciting when we also look at the integration scenarios – particularly at the narrow end of the V, where we get into authoring tools and special disciplines.

Of course, we need to retain full traceability here as well. But this is also where information from requirements development is transferred to the technical divisions.

Although we have been focusing on requirements, it should be mentioned that SAP EPD’s ability to model SysML diagrams also supports model-based requirements development and documentation, through to the point at which MBSE methodologies come into play.

Where required, we can therefore transfer and use far more than mere requirements – though already by way of structured data.

The collaboration tools inherent in SAP EPD offer various options for transporting the relevant data, particularly when working with outside partners.

We also see potentials in targeted processing of data prior to transport as well as modeling of the relevant workflows, UIs and service tasks – or, once again: Integration and process design.

Making the digital thread visible

I have already mentioned that SAP EPD offers horizontal traceability from the requirement through to the test case. But SAP EPD also provides the means for linking tests with SAP bills of material. For physical test cases, we thus have direct, documented and replicable information on what assembly was tested in which specific instance.

The option of linking requirements with SAP objects like materials, parts lists and documents means that information on the requirements that have resulted in the development of the relevant object is retained even after information transfer.

Particularly in change cases, such information is highly valuable because it greatly facilitates impact analysis and closes any gaps in the information chain between requirements and warehousing or orders management.

At this point it must be said that the SAP EPD Cockpit provides a first look at information based on existing data. But this certainly opens up potential for designing solutions that use your data effectively and efficiently in your particular use case.

This is also where closed-loop engineering circles back to requirements acquisition – where our product segues into the service phase and begins to live.

The SAP EPDs tools for systems modeling also offer considerable potential because of course the system objects are again integrated into the traceability scenarios and can be linked to SAP objects. As just one example, this lets us use a (dys-)function to identify the components involved, analyze interfunctional dependencies or, in disassembly planning, easily determine which components must be included in a recyclable subsystem.

Leverage the potential of PLM with SAP EPD and the experts from CENIT and Coristo

I hope that this article has given the reader an indication of the potentials inherent in an integrated requirements management approach and, where appropriate, systems modeling. Both of them go far beyond conventional engineering. The unique selling proposition of SAP EPD is that it permits easy realization of these potentials even across system and process boundaries.

Not to mention the benefits that accrue for engineering: I risk repeating myself, but requirements engineering and MBSE help us do the right thing the right way – even against a backdrop of rising complexity, interdisciplinary approaches, and conflicts between time, cost and quality targets. For most of us, these are the pain points that drive us to seek new approaches to PLM.

But beyond alleviating the pain, integrated requirements management and systems modeling by SAP EPD opens up a whole range of new potentials for PLM. As experts for the entire PLM process, we are there to support you in exploiting these potentials.