Each year Zuken hosts Zuken Innovation World (ZIW), an industry event that brings together customers, partners, and industry professionals to network, learn, and innovate. This year, ZIW co-located with Integrate22, Vitech’s inaugural event aimed at fostering dynamic, vibrant discussions around systems engineering. Lifecycle Insights’ Chief Analyst Chad Jackson attended the event. The following are his takeaways.

Do we need more integration between electronic, electrical, and systems design?

The smart, connected trend is driving more electronics, electrical systems, and software into products in practically every industry. And many problems crop up when these domains stay siloed. Zuken executives gave some insight to attendees on the future roadmap of their solutions and how they can bring together engineers from different domains.

Do we need more integration between electronic, electrical, and systems design?

During a pair of co-located events, Zuken Innovation World and Integrate22, Zuken’s CTO Kazuhiro Kariya gave some insight into the forward-looking roadmap for Genesys, E3.infinite, and CR-8000. And it is a deep and integrated one.

Mr. Kariya started by talking about the challenges of developing E/E systems. Enginers working on different board systems and different aspects of the same electrical distribution system often have little insight into what others are doing. And as a result, they often don’t understand the implications of their design decisions on other parts of the system. That’s a problem. Engineers scramble to back out changes that cause catastrophic issues for others. Engineers redesign different aspects of the system again and again. And when development stakeholders catch issues at the end of the process, there’s mad scrambling to find the root cause of the problems and fix them.

So, what’s Zuken’s solution?

Vitech’s Genesys.

A few years ago, Zuken acquired Vitech and their MBSE solution Genesys. The vision is to have tight, deep integrations between CR-8000, Zuken’s solution to develop multi-board systems, and E3.infinite, Zuken’s solution to create electrical distribution systems. The connection is from requirements, functions, and architectures in an MBSE model down to the models in these electronic and electrical domains. Once it is all connected, engineers can understand how their potential change affects requirements and any other systems connected to those requirements.

What’s my take? There’s been a big trend toward more informed decision-making in engineering. The idea is to give engineers context for what they are trying to do. For some, that might be understanding the cost, availability, and supplier risk with electronic components. For others, it is about shifting simulation earlier in the process so engineers can correlate changes in performance with decisions. Tighter MBSE connections into specific design domains, enabling more visibility into implications, are another feather in that cap. Solving this problem can mean a lot for organizations. It can translate to avoiding painful, time-consuming delays and margin-degrading cost overruns. And after the acquisition, this is where Zuken and Vitech can provide synergistic business value.

Generative engineering and automated design are coming to Zuken’s offerings.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are two technology types that are on the rise in many different solution areas. And it is coming to engineering in a strong way. Zuken executives talked about the role that AI and ML play in their offerings, specifically for automation.

Generative engineering and automated design are coming to Zuken’s offerings.

At Zuken Innovation World this week, Zuken’s CTO Kazuhiro Kariya shared a forward-looking vision for their offerings. One of the most prominent announcements was that they’d be using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and topology algorithms to automate various design tasks. Engineers can use these tools to develop proper architectures, logical designs, physical implementations, and routing. Zuken will provide the generally applicable capabilities in what they call a ‘basic brain.’ On top of that, each customer can have these algorithms watch engineers do design work and learn progressively in what he called a ‘dynamic brain.’ This latter concept captures practices and approaches that are specific to your company. Combining the ‘basic brain’ and the ‘dynamic brain’ can deliver a significant amount of automation.

What’s my take?

Findings from our Product Design on the Digital Transformation Agenda study show that complexity is skyrocketing across all domains, including electronic hardware and electrical distribution systems (see figure below). On top of that, there is a very real shortfall in engineering talent. Companies are encountering significant challenges in finding, hiring, and retaining engineering talent. Between those two, there is a real need for increased productivity.

In that light, this is an excellent application for AI and ML. Companies can use it to automate both mundane tasks as well as very complex ones where there are competing or conflicting requirements. And most interestingly, customers won’t have to rely on generic automation capabilities accessible to everyone in the industry. This kind of solution learns how these things are designed in their company, mirroring and mimicking their best practices. That is powerful and differentiated.

Overall, this is a strong move in the right direction. And customers will benefit from it.

Lifecycle Insights conducts research and publishes guidance for engineering executives. Follow us for more on digital transformation in product development.