Design disconnect: MBT survey lets your voice be heard on mechatronics challenges

Manufacturing Business Technology (MBT) is surveying manufacturers about the challenges of mechatronics: that is, the synchronization of mechanical, electrical, and software engineering data. Final results will be detailed in an upcoming white paper issued to survey respondents, revealing the current state of systems support, and functional areas ripe for improvement.
By Manufacturing Business Technology Staff November 7, 2007

The results of a new survey on product designers’ use of mechatronics are nearly complete, and point to significant problems—up to and including product recalls and delayed launches—if challenges aren’t met.
Mechatronics is the synchronization of the mechanical, electrical, and software engineering data underpinning many of today’s products.
Manufacturing Business Technology (MBT) magazine is surveying manufacturers about the challenges faced in mechatronics, and early results reveal some alarming trends, including:
• Nearly 60 percent of respondents say inadequate integration of electrical, mechanical, and software design is a problem that “occasionally” causes cost, quality, and time-to-market problems; and just more than 10 percent says poor integration “continually” causes such problems.
• As a result of poor collaboration between design disciplines, 58 percent of respondents have experienced product launch delays, and 8 percent experienced product recalls.
To take the MBT survey on mechatronics ,

click here

While the survey is ongoing, early results consistently show respondents recognize that lack of coordination between design disciplines is a significant problem. The survey is still open to participation, and final results will be detailed in an upcoming white paper, available to survey respondents, including the business impacts of poor collaboration, as well information on the current state of systems support, and functional areas respondents are looking to improve.
The survey also sheds light on how product life-cycle management (PLM) supports mechatronics. According to experts at PLM vendor PTC —which sponsored the research—as well as independent analysts, PLM plays an enabling role for mechatronics.
“There are two aspects involved in bringing things together,” says Ken Amann, director of research with Ann Arbor, Mich.-based analyst firm CIMdata . “One is the definitional aspect, and the other is the process aspect.”
Amann says PLM vendors are doing more to ensure the systems requirements and definition management within PLM suites can hold salient data on electronics and software. However, says Amann, since there is no all-compassing authoring environment for mechanical CAD and electrical CAD. Software development, workflow, and process management tools from PLM vendors can help integrate key pieces of data from these tools with the product record.
“We’re seeing tighter integration and better interchange of information,” Amann says.
Pawel Chadzynski, VP of product management at PTC for electrical CAD, says a PLM system can serve as a unifying framework for electrical design or software configuration data. Chadzynski says PTC also offers applications called ProductView and Intercomm, aimed at allowing users of a tool from one design domain to visualize and understand data coming from other disciplines.
Ultimately, says Chadzynski, the challenge isn’t having one tool that does everything for every domain in mechatronics, but to have one common repository for the overall definition, as well as visualization and integration solutions that bridge the tools.
“Product definitions require a mechanical, software piece, and electrical piece,” says Chadzynski. “All of that data needs to be managed in one place.”
MBT invites you to

take the Mechatronics survey today