Courtesy of Analytical Graphics Inc

The state of the art of physics-based modeling, simulation and analysis (MS&A) technologies has advanced incredibly over the past twenty years. Physics and multi-physics tools are able to accurately and realistically depict/replicate the characteristics, or expected characteristics, of systems in the digital domain. This important aspect means that many questions regarding the operation and effectiveness of systems can be answered virtually – in essence, before “metal is bent.” Last month I discussed the concept of Digital Engineering and its growing potential to help organizations achieve greater capabilities and mission effectiveness.

As part of modern military planning, [Canadian] National Defence must also look to the future security environment, identifying capability requirements on a continual basis to ensure that the Canadian Forces is properly positioned to meet Canada’s defence needs. This includes keeping pace with new technologies and ensuring that old and new systems are compatible. National Defence must also ensure that equipment remains compatible with that of Canada’s allies.

– 2019 Update to the DND’s Defence Investment Plan 2018

This focus area aims to place the spotlight on the “formalized application of modeling to support all the system lifecycle phases from concept through disposal“(DoD Digital Engineering Strategy (DES), p 5). Further, it highlights the potential to formally connect the lifecycle impacts of a wide variety of engineering models that up to now, have had very little visibility to one another (see Example of Models below). For example, personnel management models can be instrumental for an organization to identify, locate, attract, hire, train and retain key personnel needed to field certain systems – systems that could take a long time to design, develop, deploy and sustain. In the meantime, the rapid pace of technology tends to be a forcing function on the system’s expected capabilities and ability to achieve its intended mission or mission outcomes. Currently, this process is largely managed in an ad hoc fashion and the connection between/among such models is via ‘human glueware.’ The formal recognition of the value of connecting such models digitally is a path to greater visibility and ability to react as demographics and technologies evolve.

According to the DoD 2018 DES, implementation of this goal must involve:

  • Planning to
    • incorporate the impact of models on enterprise decision making
      • this is formalising that models will impact system decisions
    • establish the necessary formalisms to guide the standards of model development
      • there must be guidance towards creating models that are communicated to all who are involved
    • digitally represent the system of interest
      • a formal commitment to create the model(s).
  • Development, integration and curation of models to
    • provide authoritative and re-usable representations
      • based on direction, guidance, and standards, take the action to build the models to be at the highest fidelity and usefulness
    • effectively and efficiently connect across disciplines throughout the lifecycle
      • make the logical connections to all the system stakeholder groups, wherever their impact is along the system’s lifecycle.
  • Employment of models to
    • be the authoritative basis for making engineering decisions
      • the representation(s) is expected to be available and consulted for mission impacts
    • communicate and collaborate among stakeholders in a more effective fashion, and along the lifecycle
      • utilize model output and descriptions to optimally inform on status, capabilities, etc.
Examples of Models, Digital Engineering Strategy, June 2018, Page 5

What Some Orgs Are Doing

DES, page 6

U.S. Army:

Image Courtesy of the U.S. Army

The combination of the National Defense Strategy and the Digital Engineering Strategy has provided the Army with the impetus for fundamentally restructuring the way it equips its forces for the future. The Army’s top six modernization technologies (long-range precision fires, Next Generation Combat Vehicle, Future Vertical Lift, the network, anti-missile defense and Soldier lethality), along with its eight cross-functional teams and a new four-star U.S. Army Futures Command, have provided a solid foundation and direction for the Army research, development, test and evaluation community and program executive offices.

High Performance Advantage, U.S. Army, 23 January 2020

What Should An Organization Do?

Establishing a Digital Engineering Strategy is not a trivial matter. Its effective implementation can be a literal ‘game-changer’ in an organization’s resilience to global effects and changes. An important first step might be to take an inventory. This could be both an inventory of existing models (see Example of Models above) as well as an identification of stakeholder groups across the lifecycle. From this vantage point, an organization can start to understand where its possible model ‘gaps’ are, and/or which groups should begin formal discussions to get on an implementation path.

Coming Up

In my next blog, I will expand on the importance and key aspects of establishing an authoritative source of truth repository for system models and related data, which is key to achieve the highest level of fidelity from which important decisions can be made.

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