Original Date: 03/08/1999
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Design Infrastructure
The Applied Research Laboratory at the Pennsylvania State University (ARL Penn State) developed and implemented a simulation based design (SBD) system which rapidly searches the design domain by integrating software tools for design creation; cost and performance estimation; and object-oriented storage. This system uses virtual prototyping to rapidly evaluate design/decision alternatives for cost, mission effectiveness, reliability, maintainability, and manufacturability. Prior to this development, no tools existed at the ARL Penn State which could integrate design, analysis, performance, and cost applications into a single package. The SBD system is an automated design process (Figure 2-1) which captures rules for system and subsystem technologies; connects these legacy applications over a distributed, heterogeneous environment; and helps engineers make decisions early in the acquisition process.
SBD interconnects knowledge based engineering (KBE) tools, undersea simulations, computer aided design (CAD), commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) cost estimating tools, geography applications, customized FORTRAN, C, C++, Visual Basic, JAVA, and object databases. The interoperational environment is based on the common object request broker architecture (CORBA), which is used as middleware for communicating between languages, operating systems, and computers. SBD operates on various platforms including Windows 95 and NT; UNIX; and DEC Alpha VMS. The resulting virtual prototype uses geometry to show the relative sizing and placement of components; and data to drive the undersea simulations and parametric cost estimations. The infrastructure formalizes a natural dialog among agents. The information model defines the core of the SBD system by defining product and design variables such as vehicle length, diameter, speed, depth, propulsion power, weight, and endurance. From this model, a database is generated along with the CORBA interfaces to the cost agents, performance agents, and design servers. Custom applications are developed as required with design servers capturing the rules that relate function and constraints to form. The design server checks the input against the information model and then against the constraint map. A constraint map describes the possible combinations of inputs and outputs, and ties the information model to the design server. As a result, a complete model is generated. Design model data is also fed into the final software application to determine product financial information.
The targeted applications for SBD technology are torpedoes and autonomous undersea vehicles. This process significantly decreases the development time, once a database is populated. The time it takes to perform design, fabrication, performance, and cost trade studies for a lightweight torpedo concept can be reduced from six months to one month. Additional trade studies can be performed within minutes by varying product size, components, and their locations within the product volume, desired performance, or cost output. Typically, these additional trade studies would have taken several months to complete.
SBD provides sufficient information so informed decisions can be made early in the acquisition process for military and commercial systems. With most of the code being autogenerated and 90% of the process automated, this technology offers very rapid response times for new projects, programs, and technologies. SBD provides the ARL Penn State with an excellent cost-effective virtual prototyping system that integrates design, analysis, performance, and cost software applications for rapidly evaluating design/decision alternatives.
Figure 2-1. Simulation Based Design Flowchart
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