Smart Engineering Challenges

Smart Engineering is intended to provide support for the development of smart products and services, as well as a networked production setup that includes the associated production systems, over the entire product lifecycle. The objective is an end-to-end digital value chain.

What concrete changes can be expected? What opportunities does Smart Engineering offer?

The digitization of business processes requires a complete digital product model that not only maps the development process but also the entire product lifecycle (digital master and digital twin).

Smart, connected products require interdisciplinary engineering. If it is to be possible for different development partners to work together on the system properties, a cross-discipline definition is needed. Model-based systems engineering closes this gap and makes possible a complete digital representation of a product over its entire lifecycle.

Product data today is still managed in data silos, i.e. in separate ALM, PLM and ERP systems that are only partially integrated, if at all. What is needed is secure and efficient access to consistent and up-to-date product data over the entire product lifecycle.

Inexpensive, high quality additive manufacturing processes (3D printing) allow for technical product complexity that meets the exact design requirements and is no longer constrained by restrictive production processes. Furthermore, the use of embedded software, sensors and actuators makes product customization easier while at the same time reducing the number of physical variants.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data allow data from the entire product lifecycle to be analyzed a utilized. Access to data relating to wear and tear, operating parameters, usage statistics and to service data not only enables predictive maintenance but also ensures fast feedback regarding customer benefits and expectations from the after-sales phase of the development process. This facilitates and accelerates product optimization in terms of functionality, cost and quality.


The force driving these changes is the increasingly rapid digitalization of business and society. It will fundamentally change the way we develop, manufacture and work in the future.

What challenges to these changes pose? What aspects must companies master in the future in order to fully exploit the new potential?

  • New products, services and business models lead to increased competition. Surviving in this environment requires product ideas that are even more innovative and efficient value chains.
  • Global networking and global access to information and services mean that different process skills are needed to ensure that companies select the resources that are the least expensive and best suited for their business processes from the plethora of different resources available.
  • The shift from traditional products and systems to cyber-physical products and systems, which incorporate software and electronics and are also interconnected, demands interdisciplinary know-how not only when developing the products but also when designing the processes.
  • Product customization results in a larger number of variants and a higher level of product complexity.
    In most cases, this gives rise to more complex development, production and service processes. Appropriate strategic approaches and solutions are needed if this complexity is to be made manageable.
  • The need for a global market presence, the increase in product complexity and the dynamics resulting from increased competition reduce the length of time that requirements and other terms of reference remain valid. The ability to think and act in an agile manner and deal with contradictions is becoming an increasingly important factor in a company‘s success.
  • The growing use of IT systems and the availability of digital information across all phases of the product
    lifecycle offer an opportunity to increase efficiency potential through the cross-disciplinary integration of data and to further boost the value added and the benefit to customers.
  • The wide range of engineering services offered in the global network reduces costs, speeds up development and makes know-how more widely available. The use of collaborative methods, systems and processes will therefore be a crucial factor in determining the ability to compete in the field of engineering.