As the complexity of a product increases, the need for thorough system engineering increases at an even greater rate. For small, simple products, system engineering is embedded naturally in the design process. As the product becomes larger and more complex, and involves a larger number of developers, the system engineering process needs to be more explicit, and is best served by a dedicated system engineering team. Our system engineers focus on the three key aspects of system engineering:
- Requirement and need analysis and breakdown
- System analysis, modeling and simulation
- Integration and Test
Our system engineers lead the process of translating the marketing requirements/needs (often specified in a Marketing Requirements Document) into engineering specifications. When a product has multiple elements, our system engineers will create a specification for each element, including a specification of how each element interacts and communicates with the others. As part of this process, they will perform a variety of system analyses and/or simulations to determine the specifications for each element, as well as specifications for the behavior of the system as a whole.
For example, in a wireless system, the end goal of the system is to communicate between two radios at a specified distance and data rate. By analyzing and understanding the propagation environment, our system engineers break down that distance/data rate requirement into the specifications the RF engineer needs (transmit power, modulation format, receiver sensitivity, etc.) as well as the protocol specifications and behavior the software developer needs. The importance of properly specifying the interaction between the various elements becomes critical when the development work enters the system integration and test phase. The specifications and analyses provide the basis for determining which elements are behaving properly and which elements are not. As we collect data during the integration phase, we also check it against the predictions from the analyses and simulations. If the measured performance deviates from the predictions, then either the elements are not working as expected or the environment is different than predicted. In either case, the elements and the analyses are both iteratively updated until the predictions and measurements match.
Although the test and integration process generally starts under a set of controlled conditions, it often expands to field testing in the real world. A critical part of the testing is making the system operate as intended not only when conditions are optimal, but when they are marginal and/or intermittent as well as poor. Our disciplined system engineering process, from design through integration and test, yields you a high performance, reliable, and robust product.