Concurrent Manufacturing Engineering
Modern engineering processes require working productively with interconnected but possibly very different artefacts. Engineers typically manipulate these artefacts concurrently using various engineering tools, which are not necessarily integrated with each other in any way.
Such a heterogeneous tool landscape poses the challenge of ensuring the consistency of all artefacts.
In the domain of manufacturing engineering, a crucial industrial branch for a country with a strong focus on export such as Germany, ensuring consistency is extremely important as a complex chain of tool is used, each with its own set of standardized and normed formats, which are not likely to be changed in the near future.
Although going through the chain in the forward direction is typically well supported, experience in software engineering has shown that an iterative approach is necessary to save costs, reduce risks, and in general to improve the efficiency of the entire manufacturing process. To support such an iterative approach, however, it must also be possible to go backwards in the process chain from every artefact.
Using MDE approaches and technology, consistency requirements can be specified as formal models, which enables an implementation of consistency restoration with model transformation languages. Bidirectional model transformation languages are especially suitable for incremental change propagation between artefacts, which can be used to restore and maintain consistency.
In the context of the IT research project "Concurrent Manufacturing Engineering" (CME), part of the Software Campus, the challenge of consistency maintenance was investigated with an industrial model synchronization case study taken from the domain of manufacturing engineering.
The primary goal of the project was to investivgate a new application domain and identify its unique requirements and challenges. This was to serve as impetus for new ideas, inspiration, and innovation in the context of bidirectional model transformation languages.
Results include a new modularity concept, rule refinement for Triple Graph Grammars (TGGs), required to deal with the complexity of large sets of transformation rules, as well as a series of static analyses, to identify specification errors early in the development process.
By collaborating closely with our industrial partner Siemens AG, it was possible to evaluate the potential and practicability of current research approaches and prototypes in the context of bidirectional model transformations, using a real-world application with industrial relevance.
Our research is supported mainly by the Siemens AG, which provides us any domain-specific knowledge and helps us to develop use cases that arise from typical engineering tasks. Our common goal is to identify strengths and potentials of our approach, as well as problems and restrictions.