Adaptation to change – a systems view on upgrades

Speaker: Göran Granholm
Venue: Helsinki (June 4th 2015)

The Systems Engineering vision 2025 identifies important steps that need to be taken in order to reach the ambitious goals of expanding the application of Systems Engineering (SE) across industry domains. Despite the growing interest, there are still many real and imaginary obstacles to overcome. In a recent research project looking into ways to adapt SE to the specific needs of Finnish industry, a number of such issues were identified. In addition to concerns about increased workload and costs at the expense of flexibility, it was argued that SE is foreign to current reality, where companies are not acting as independent operators but as partners of global dynamic networks established on a project per project basis. To be efficient the companies must maintain their flexibility to adapt to new project conventions, without being tied to own formalised processes.

Another concern relates to the way SE is treated in existing handbooks were the dependency on legacy systems is often neglected. In practise, much of the development work builds on previously installed systems or existing platforms. High-investment products typically also have a long service lives. During this time customer goals and business environment may change significantly. To maintain or improve the value of the asset upgrades become necessary.

In an ongoing EU-funded research project involving 20 organisations, research institutes and companies across Europe representing a variety of industries are looking at ways to lift their upgrade activities to a new level. To do this the project applies a holistic systems approach involving not only innovative technical solutions but also enabling processes and service business aspects. An important starting point is the understanding and modelling of causal effects in the surrounding world to enable efficient adaptation to the changing environment and customer needs. The project relies heavily on making use of the knowledge and experience of actors interacting with the system at different stages of the life-cycle, and emphasises the importance of innovation and creativity as part of the process by looking at approaches to stimulate ideation in collaboration with actors and stakeholders.
The presentation builds on finding of recent and on-going research projects, and presents identified challenges and proposed solutions on the way to a broader understanding and extended adoption of Systems Engineering across industries and in all phases of the life-cycle.

Göran Granholm is a senior scientist at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. He is has along experience in working with industry in research and development projects applying modelling, simulation and virtual reality methods to system definition and early design in maritime, security and defence sectors. Current interests include collaboration technologies for innovation and co-creation. He is currently coordinator of the EU funded research project ‘Use-it-wisely’ targeting innovation and upgrade business across various industries.

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