We are using different, and interesting new stuff to build stuff. Labs have developed solar cells using nanoparticle inks to cover the substrate, there is a never-ending search for new battery materials. Storing data in glass, combine shrimp shells with a spider silk protein and you get “shrilk” a tough, biodegradable replacement for plastics, and aerogels that can be used as high-performance insulation and high-end sports clothing—all happening now, or soon. Thermoelectric materials such as skutterudite may someday harvest excess heat from our stuff and create electricity. 

The thinnest material made to date, graphene, is only one atom thick, yet is 200 times stronger than steel―flexible, stretchable, self-healing, transparent, more conductive than copper, and even super-conductive. Imagine the stuff to be made! Some possibilities include filtering sea water to make fresh water or capturing CO2 before it gets into the atmosphere to help alleviate climate change. Because of its strength and conductivity, replacing body parts like bones, organs, and nerves may be possible. Or it could be used for the early detection of toxins, viruses, or diseases. By adding graphene to traditional materials such as aluminum and steel, it could be used in the creation of stronger and lighter materials.

But, scaling these advances in technology to a manufacturing level is a challenge today and a potential problem tomorrow.

On the other hand, there are certain entities making new stuff that directly affect your ability to make new stuff. The Federal Register, the government’s regulatory bible, has almost 96,000 pages. Total pages in the Code of Federal Regulations is more than 180 thousand. Although hard to pin down exactly, the burdened cost of regulations in one study was put at $1.9 trillion in 2016 or $15,000 per household. Major rules are defined by The Congressional Review Act as ones that have resulted in, or are likely to result in, an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more. In 2016 there were close to 130 of these new rules published. The cost of non-compliance is high. Non-compliance costs come from the expenses associated with business disruption, productivity losses, fines, penalties, and settlement costs, among others. Your business has at least a handful, and more likely, a chapter or two of these pages that you need to pay attention to or be fined or worse. And while you as a maker of stuff, certainly must pay homage to more than a few, your management certainly cares as they must sign their own names certifying compliance.

As outlined in previous blogs in this series the ability to make new stuff Need Not Be This Hard, requires New Tools to stay ahead of the competition, incorporate new materials and processes, and avoid regulatory non-compliance.

There are better ways and better tools to make new stuff. Identifying requirements expressing the viewpoint, goals, needs, and objectives of the final product, as expressed by various stakeholders—such as customers, business, technologists, and regulatory agencies that oversee that market space—is the essential first step in making stuff with new stuff. It is an iterative process conducted throughout the product lifecycle. With the ubiquity of electronics, sensors, software, connectivity, variability, omnipresent regulations, and the promise and challenge of new materials and methods, the need for a formal, structured requirements management platform is essential.

One such new tool is the Requirements Engineering (RE) application built on the Aras platform. One of the key strengths of RE is its ability to establish and maintain requirement relationships, internal and external to the PLM platform (Aras Innovator), through the open database and open API. Requirements can be related to multiple items, parts, and documents. Its deployment and use as an integral part of the PLM, leads to more timely meeting of design objectives, faster time to market, reduced product cost, less cross-discipline rework, lower risk of regulatory non-compliance, and more effective resolution of issues that arise during deployment.

Some of its key capabilities include:

  • Requirements are libraries of standalone reusable items
  • Requirements metadata includes customizable classifications and categories
  • Requirements Documents may group any set of requirements for a specific project or design
  • In Requirements Documents, requirements are arranged as chapters/sub-chapters
  • Requirements Documents provide two ways of viewing related requirements: MS Word like native document rendering, Excel like metadata tabulation
  • Requirements in the context of a requirements document are edited without explicit locking—edits are resolved on save
  • RE is integrated with the Visual Collaboration panel

New materials and processes may be a challenge but need not be scary. Capturing the initial requirements from all stakeholders and managing them throughout the product lifecycle, under the guidance of the Requirements Engineering application, allows your organization and business to innovate, while improving timeliness, cost control, and quality.