Mechanical Design is Changing in Smart, Connected Products Era

Making the transition from designing mechanically-oriented products to smart, connected ones can be intimidating. And frankly, it should be. Companies making this ambitious change must gain new competencies to develop embedded software, design electronics, and plan electrical systems. All three are brand new domains that might seem pretty foreign to companies that have been focused on mechanical design for decades.

While companies do, in fact, need to gain those new capabilities, they often overlook an additional adjustment: changing the way mechanical engineers design. You see, decisions made in mechanical design have a profound impact on all those other engineering disciplines.

Delving deeper into the changes to mechanical design in the smart, connected products era is the focus of this post. Let’s get started.

connected-world

ThingWorx Review: Ditching the Duct Tape

Many companies are going through the transition from developing mechanically oriented products to smart, connected ones. Overall, that transition includes a sea of changes, many of them challenging. Adding the organizational capability to develop embedded code, electrical systems, or rigid-flex electronics. One of the easier adjustments, however, is implementing an Internet of Things (IoT) platform and connecting a product to it. In some ways, this has become a plug-n-play type of change. In this post, we’ll be diving into one of the prominent IoT platforms available: ThingWorx. We’ll review the capabilities it provides and the value that organizations get out of it. Let’s get started. Read the rest of this entry »

Building the Digital Thread for Harness Design

There’s no doubt about it: today’s smart, connected products are incredibly complex. They are composed of embedded software, custom processors, flexible circuit boards, sensors, antennas, and complicated electrical harnesses. And while the real-world products are complex, their digital representations are even more so.

You see, every aspect of a smart, connected product has one, and perhaps many, digital representations that have evolved over time. The progressive iterations of those digital representations strung together into a single sequence are called a Digital Thread. A Digital Thread exists for each and every aspect of a smart, connected product. One also exists for every assembly and even the overall product.

Managing the Digital Thread for all these items is critically important. It allows organizations to manage the configurations of products. It allows them to revisit the state of designs at a specific point in time. It allows companies to comply with some regulatory requirements. It is crucial for practically all manufacturers.

Today, in this post, we’re going to be diving deep into the Digital Thread of harnesses. We’ll answer many questions. What does it encompass? What does it look like over time? Who is involved?

Let’s get started.

engineers-collaborating

The Rising Demand for Routed Electrical Collaboration

A couple of weeks ago, I published an article that focused on the need for collaboration between electrical and mechanical engineers called It Takes Two: Modern Circuit Board Design. In it, I wrote that the development of circuit boards really does require some tight work back and forth between these two types of engineers because there are constraints on both sides that need to be satisfied.

Well, circuit board design isn’t the only aspects of smart, connected products that require electrical and mechanical engineers to work in concert. Routed electrical systems, composed of wires, cables, and harnesses is another aspect. That’s what we’ll be diving into with this post.