Virtualization is a key enabler for efficient development

Dr. Bernd Fachbach
Scientific Area Manager Efficient Development, Key Researcher Virtualization, Information and Process Management
Automotive and rail vehicles are undergoing a radical change. Software is getting a central driver and enabler for new functions and new possibilities of usage. Vehicles will look different, technology is changing. The way to develop products has to be re-thought. To keep up with the tremendous speed of electronic and software development industry is forced to optimize or even reinvent their processes to gain efficiency, flexibility and speed. VIRTUAL VEHICLE identifies virtualization and collaboration as the main key enablers and develops a wide range of technology, methods and process elements for its industry partners.

Companies in vehicle industry are facing vast challenges due to increased product complexity of the vehicle, new technologies, as well as an extensive product portfolio. The challenges are wide-spread:

  • Reduction of time-to-market and development cost
  • Virtualization of product development, Digital Transformation
  • Handling of product complexity and variability
  • Transition from classical iteration to agile development processes
  • De-verticalization by emerging broadly horizontal supply chains
  • Consistency, traceability, availability and security of data and information
  • Utilization of (lifecycle) data and data-driven services

The virtualization of product development in context of digitalization of the product lifecycle helps to overcome these challenges. The potential of virtualization is the ability to gain agility in development by reduction of required time for variant assessment, to raise product quality by early concept validation and investigation in variants and robustness, as well as to decrease time-to-market drastically.

Characteristics of Efficient Development

Highly efficient vehicle development can be characterized by some major aspects:

  • high agility and short-time-to-market
  • first-time-right for functional design and verification
  • handle complexity of product, product design and validation
  • highly economic product design and validation
  • close cooperation and integration of development partners

Gaining more agility and speed for wide-spread variant analyses by tapping the full potential requires a new way of thinking development. Despite of speed and efficiency quality has to be raised and new functions require new approaches for verification and validation.

A holistic view is required – by bringing together different disciplines, integrating partners, providing a perfect collaboration environment, enabling system view at any time within the lifecycle, gaining consistency of process, data, information and decisions along the product lifecycle, and consistently taking into account human factors.

Contribution of VIRTUAL VEHICLE to Efficient Development

VIRTUAL VEHICLE investigates and develops approaches for the key factors for efficient development. These key factors are digitalization, virtualization, handling of raising complexity, enabling traceability, reaching agility, and enabling collaboration and partner integration.

Researchers at VIRTUAL VEHICLE cover a wide range of expertise – such as experience in vehicle development, process development, engineering IT systems, software development, method investigation or physical testing. VIRTUAL VEHICLE has also built up a wealth of valuable knowledge and wide-spread experience from industry and research of the boundary conditions and the challenges faced by the automotive and rail industries.

Research at VIRTUAL VEHICLE is based on core visions and approaches:

  • Complete system view of data and functions
  • Consistent model-centric approach
  • Traceability from requirements, through design, to realization as software and/or hardware (SE)
  • Interdisciplinary approaches and collaborative engineering
  • Flexibility and modularity-based approaches

VIRTUAL VEHICLE is following a holistic approach to reach the goals – offering 3 fields of activities to support the industry on the way towards consequent virtualisation, an efficient development process, and gaining agility and speed:

Research activities

  • Method and product related research and investigation with more than 80 industrial partners and 50 scientific partners
  • High fidelity models, validation methods, system validation, Systems Engineering, process and information management etc.

Consulting and analysis

  • Derive vision, strategy or roadmap towards virtualization and detect fields of activity for OEMs and system suppliers;
  • Cooperation with nameable consulting partners

Development, demonstration and implementation

  • Demonstrators and demonstration labs
  • Service oriented tasks to implement research results of partner-specific objectives at customer sites,
  • Cooperation with relevant strategic partner companies