Whether it’s a representation of the CEO to the shop floor worker, or aircraft to the specification of the wing rivet, we all recognise a hierarchy. In Cradle, a Hierarchy Diagram (HID) is a graphical visualisation of how minor elements are combined in increasing complexity into increasingly large collections, to produce the item at the top, the subject of the HID.
Many use the metaphor that it is like a tree, the trunk as the core product, branching off to the smaller and less significant leaf nodes.
The leaves are seen as the lowest level of importance. After all, a tree can survive without a few leaves, and not have any detrimental effect. This is likely true if we were building a house, if a supplier is unable to supply the kitchen cupboards, the house will not ‘fail’. It will remain standing and still be considered a house. It just can’t be considered 100% complete. And it may be a little inconvenient to store your pots and pans.
However, if we consider that the way we normally draw a hierarchy diagram is more like a tree’s core with the roots flowing down. Now, let’s consider what would happen if one small root picked up a detrimental chemical from the soil. This would travel throughout the tree damaging the core trunk. In the case of the aircraft rivet, a change in quality or specification of this lowest level element could have disastrous consequences for the whole aircraft system. Here the nodes (at least some) are crucial to the integrity of the product.
There is no right way or wrong way to represent and think of a hierarchy. It will depend on your organisation / system / product. It may even apply differently to different parts of the system. However, it is important that you consider what your hierarchy represents and what part the end nodes play.
Due to popular demand an extra Document Publisher course has been scheduled this year. Document Publisher Course 22nd – 25th November 2021
Following feedback this two day course has been spread over 4 ½-day sessions to give candidates more time to practice what they have learned, and ask follow up questions at the next session. We’re busy putting together the 2022 schedule and would like to hear from you if there are any topics you would like to see covered, contact email@example.com
Cradle allows you to draw a hierarchy diagram from any linked item. This gives you an instant visualisation of how related components fit together. Watch this clip https://youtu.be/IA4AFZyRrQo and other tips on our YouTube channel, and don’t forget to Subscribe. Find out more in this blog article.
We looked at the benefits of using Thales using robots in the growing, but hazardous offshore wind environment.
We reminded you that, as we move back to offices and workplaces after home working, our environment risks consideration are as important as our product assessments.
Document Publisher November 22nd – 25th November 2021
Due to popular demand, we’ve added another chance to make your output shine with Cradle report creation training – Document Publisher November 2021 course.
“Once you have managed your requirements and development, producing a comprehensive report, automatically based directly on the project data, provides an essential deliverable”
Businesses that have Cradle for their Requirements Management or Systems Engineering process can benefit from additional Cradle tools.
Document Publisher is a Windows® based publishing tool that allows professional documentation to be produced directly from the data within your project’s database. Fully understanding how to configure templates and data manipulation will offer the best output for you to provide to your stakeholders and customers, regulators and other interested parties.
Public Document Publisher Course November 2021
Often the document production task is run by an individual or a very small team. Therefore, this public online course will offer a cost effective way of providing training. You’ll benefit from all the normal learning, but will have the chance to network and share with other virtual attendees from other industries. However, if you have a larger team courses can be tailored and held at your premises / virtually depending on restrictions and requirements at a date and time to suit see here. This will be conducted over four ½ days.
It’s been another strange Summer break this year. We hope you have managed to take a few days to recharge your batteries whether a Vacation, Staycation, Backyardcation. The last 18 months or so have shown what is possible with remote working. We trust with WebAccess, VPN connections, Remote Desktop Access, or SaaS you have been able to continue with your projects in Cradle.
There has been a lot of debate over the advantages and disadvantages of working from home. On one hand you can “just finish” something without needing to leave for a bus or train, on the other hand some of the social interaction and coffee table discussions are missing over video conference. With your computer sat on a desk at home there may be more of a temptation or expectation to sign on ‘outside hours’ to answer emails.
So whilst we are pleased you are reading this August 2021 newsletter, it is important to remember whatever type of break you take, (a change is as good as a rest) it is important to have time away and to refocus on your return. 3SL is happy to advise on flexible configurations of your installation to keep you up to speed wherever and however you continue to work
Keeping your requirements SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realisable, Traceable) can easily become nubilous, insufficiently Specific. This can often be resolved by splitting the requirement statement from “The product will do this and that” into two clear statements “The product shall do this” and “The product shall do that”. Cradle’s split feature allows blocks of information to be split into multiple items, each cross referenced to their common source. These new elements are then Specific, and the linking allows them to be fully Traceable. Watch it https://youtu.be/WennmTREWXQ and other tips on our YouTube channel, and don’t forget to Subscribe
“This porridge is too hot, this porridge is too cold, this porridge is just right”
Goldilocks knew exactly what she wanted. Even if she’d not shared her requirements with the bears beforehand. However the measures made were fairly subjective.
In other situations it is much more important to get the mix right. Try building a sand castle with sand that is too wet, or too dry and the product fails, and that’s not just an opinion. If that was part of a concrete mix for a new building, you’d want to be sure it was “just right”.
What Is Quality?
What constitutes ‘quality’ will vary by product and stakeholder. Some may consider a luxury leather bound volume a ‘quality’ product. It would be wasteful and excessive to use such an expensive resource to write shopping lists. It would be more appropriate to use it to record pledges of office for city officials that will be kept in a permanent archive.
Quality may be best judged by the longevity of writing preserved in the volume’s pages. It will be of little use if its writings fade to invisibility in a few years. Copies of the Magna Carta written on parchment have lasted for over 800 years. This would be unlikely had it been written on cellulose based paper with a disposable ball point pen.
How Do You Measure It?
As part of our validation activity, we will need a way to measure the characteristics that we have decided will be used to describe quality. In our example, we could subject our ledger to an accelerated weathering simulation with cycles of varying intensities of UV light, humidity and temperature. We could then check the integrity of the volume’s bindings, its pages and the contrast of the ink and the page.
With defined quality metrics and measurable values for each metric, the quality of each product can be judged against the metrics and accepted or rejected.
What If I Can’t Measure It?
There are some things that are much more difficult to quantify. However that should not stop us trying. A customer requirement to have a soft-touch finish on their product could be met by covering it in foam padding, or a velvet cover. These might be acceptable for a chair, but not much use on the handle of a cold chisel. For this quality metric, the customer wanted something to absorb vibrations and so make the tool more comfortable to use. There may be measures of ‘softness’ in terms of compressibility and stiffness, but these may be difficult to use as quantities; You could argue velvet feels ‘softer’ than a rubberised plastic handle, but the latter will compress more than the former.
In some cases to make the requirement SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realisable, Traceable) the specific and measurable aspects may be done by comparison, or actually specifying part of the ‘solution’ in the requirement. Whist well written requirements should not mandate the solution. They should be a detailed expression of the needs, allowing the design and production to choose the most appropriate solution. However, this is not always possible. “The chair must be covered in velvet“, is really a constraint, it is unambiguous and would allow the end product to be undeniably validated. However, we could still debate the “plushness” and whether it is made from artificial or natural fibre.
In the case of the chisel, the main product finish may be specified by meeting a design constraint; such as British Standard BS 3066. This will ensure hardness of the cutting edge impact resistance will be suitable. However, the optional handle would not be covered.
We could write, “The handle should be soft to the touch providing good grip and absorbing at least 50% of the impact force when compared to an uncovered chisel. Properties comparable to the material used on the Club hammer CLBHM002 in the same range should be considered.” This time the requirement is not mandating the same material, it is allowing practical consideration as to what is possible in the manufacturing environment. It does invoke a measurable aspect whist not needing to meet specific values. It also highlights the reasons for the specification, to provide grip. If this came to a point of discussion and the supplier covered the handle in PTFE encased foam, it may be soft but would not be considered an aid to grip. However, a rubber, or texturized plastic would both pass muster.
Strive Towards Acceptance
The book on requirements management might tell you about being precise. Even in the trivial examples given we could all spot flaws. How long does the handle need to last? Does the product have to be water repellent? It would be terrible using a chisel with a lovely shock absorbing handle, if it became cold and soggy at the first sign of rain, or when rinsing it clean.
As either a customer or supplier we can mitigate against these problems, by taking a more agile approach to the whole design. Before final design and definitely before production, a round of review of design and validation criteria should be undertaken. Samples of the handle material can be shared with the customer. The baselined requirement can be updated with a new version, to explicitly state “The handle shall be manufactured from a suitably damage tolerant material, providing a good non-slip grip such as EVA – an ethylene polymer“. We have then full traceability that the requirement was updated as a result of design review. We also have a constraint that can be validated.
A Word of Caution
Whilst communicating with potential suppliers, you also need to ensure a building of trust. Ensure each side has all the correct confidentiality agreements signed. Make sure it is clear who owns the IP on any design. Whilst researching this article, the need to keep your discussions under wraps was highlighted, by Footprint Tools. If details are handed out too freely, you may find a supplier you end up not using plus a competitor buyer, beats you to market. Unfortunately you may also find if your chosen supplier is less than trustworthy they could use your design to create product for another buyer. Quality in this case applies to the contract and the trust of everyone in the engineering lifecycle chain.
At some point or other in business we are either looking to buy or looking to sell a product or service. It’s not a simple interaction, if we are seeking we need to be able to find the product we are looking for. This could be achieved by using a trade journal or directory, or by using your favourite search engine.
However, this relies on the product having been categorised in the way we are seeking. Take, for example, the requirement to add a visitor’s overflow car park at the office. Do you look under ‘builders‘ or ‘landscape contractor‘? On the other hand, as a purveyor of graduated measuring tubes do we advertise under ‘medical supplies‘ or ‘laboratory equipment‘? In truth if costs allow, placing an advert in both categories or key search words is the best option. It would likely be wasted effort placing an advert in the “injection moulding” section, even if that is actually how the product is manufactured.
The seek or sell ethos need not be restricted to buy or sell advertising. It can be applied to usage of your product or service. Under which UI (User interface) heading will the user look to find the ‘preferences‘ setting? Should be able to trigger a report from a ‘reports‘ menu, or from within each ‘dashboard‘? If you provide automotive repairs, should your website show ‘puncture repairs‘ under the ‘Wheels and Tyres’ menu or under ‘Repairs and Servicing‘?
When a user wants to switch on the set-top box, where do they instinctively look for the on/off switch on the remote? (Think, how often is the ⏻ at the top of the control, you’re unlikely to find it in the middle. To illustrate a point, if you see a strange box before the graphic icon, that’s because the rendering of the unicode character ⏻ is not supported in your browser – we thought of that and placed the graphic there too.) Design should be mindful of what and how others look, and what we provide; are we the seeker or the seller.
Survey, Testing/Monitoring, Feedback
Asking potential users, observing usage of ‘sample customers’ and allowing a route for suggestions are all ways we can tweak the efforts we place in the ‘Sell‘ side of the process to help those ‘Seeking‘ the product, facility or menu option. Online advertising tools may help identify routes taken to find, or miss a particular landing page. These can’t be applied to printed journals or directories. Observing a user, not familiar with your product, attempt to operate it, may well lead to reconsidering the positioning of controls. Lastly we should all listen to our end users and provide a method by which they can feedback, e.g. https://www.threesl.com/contact/ .
In April we highlighted the new Test Execution and Recording module available in Cradle. The only sure fire way to ensure your product / service meets the agreed characteristics is to validate and verify the result. Validate the solution meets to the requested product aspect and verify that the final output matches the design. Both these steps require a plan of some description. A set of tests that can be applied to the design or product to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the stakeholders that the system is ‘up to scratch’. In the case of verification, this may be repeated on each or a sample of the project’s output. Of course it would be a bit pointless running these tests without recording the results. The Cradle TEST (Test Execution and Recording (TER)) is designed to do just that.
We thought the digital facility from Arup of monitoring, inspection and recording to provide the best through-life support was a good way to support the customer and ensure longevity, and uninterrupted service.
We were reminded that we’d been Tweeting now for 12 years!
If you want to keep up to date with Cradle installation, instructional and feature highlight videos available then they are available on our YouTube channel. See the play lists and hit the “Subscribe” button.
That’s the summertime July 2021 Newsletter, stay safe, enjoy the sunshine and if you want a topic covered in our August 2021 Newsletter, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If this year in 2021 you’re designing flashing wrist bands for the FIFA World Cup in 2022, then it’s unlikely you’ll be worried about your product’s next ‘development stage’ in 2023. Should you be building a house you’d expect greater longevity. You’d hope the architect had designed it to still be standing in 2039, but you would not have expected them to design elements of your house to provide facilities for you to easily add an extension. If you’re designing a router, it’s unlikely that the product will still be in use in 2027, but it is likely that an iteration of your current design will be shipping to your customers. If you are creating a factory, its likely that decisions you make now will affect how flexible your production line is and how able it is to cope with future developments.
Longevity or Variant Flexibility
There is a difference between designing for a product or product line that needs to last into the future and one that needs to provide a base for a number of variants. They are not mutually exclusive but both have an impact on the effort and cost. Without being mindful of the intended product route, it is not possible to plan for this flexibility. Longevity can also be divided into product longevity and design longevity, both of which can affect your product’s end date.
Considering the examples above, if you are creating the flashing wristband and know that you need red, and yellow variants. That’s what the organisers have asked for, a different colour for the opposing teams. It is also possible, but not yet confirmed, that you’ll need green, orange, and blue variants for the semi and finals, but this is only being ‘talked about’. It would be short-sighted ordering your integrated chip-on-board circuit with a ‘built in drive resistor’ to provide the 1.8v needed for the LEDs; only to find the green and blue models can not be made.
It would be much better to add a requirement to allow this flexibility by designing the current regulating resistor as a separate component allowing the 3.2v needed for the other colours. This is a flexible design variant, it is known about and has a high probability of being needed. The impact of this on the design is minimal. The cost saving; allowing many different bands to be produced with the same chip-on-board IC; far outweighs the cost of the extra pick and place operation to add the separate resistor.
It would, however, be very unlikely that producing a variant that could be connected to a sounder to ‘beep’, as well as flash would be produced. Just imagine how annoying the stadium would be filled with beeping noises. The extra cost of designing the chip to have that facility would not produce pay back. That said, if your company produces other novelties; which include a kids toy that needs flashing and beeping; then you may be able to justify using the same chip design across two product ranges.
In house building, the variants are likely to be 2, 3 and 4 bedrooms or left and right hand versions of semi-detached, properties. The commonalities providing cost benefits, when ordering anything from windows to staircases.
Whilst we expect the house to be still standing, and the factory to still be producing; we’d not be overly surprised if the router had stopped working.
The house design is essentially static. It does not change, unless the architect is commissioned to oversee new builds. In that case they may need to be altered to meet changing building regulations.
The concepts of the router should still be good; there should be aspects of our original design in any current products.
The factory product may well alter, if it’s set up to assemble routers that are around 200mm long by 150mm wide; it would be very short-sighted to design all the conveyors and packing systems to only handle that one size. As soon as the new router design of 150mm by 100mm is required, the whole line would need to be changed. So designing for longevity; making as many of the elements of the system configurable or generic as possible; will allow you to accommodate future variants, even if their details are not yet known. Again a balance needs to be struck; designing the conveyors and packing systems that ‘might need’ to handle 3000mm wide packages, would plainly be overkill.
Our house design could be thrown away after the estate is complete. It may not be possible to keep building the same type of house for twenty years. The product, does however need to be designed to last that long. The system requirements must specify materials which will last, no one would seriously want a house built of straw. Just ask the three little pigs… The products we make on the factory line will have their own longevity, this should have been specified at concept. Some elements of the factory may still be the same. It’s the overall design and operation that we needed to last, not necessarily the products being made. If we’d been assembling the wristbands, by now they will hopefully have been recycled, else they clutter in the attic of our house with not a flash left to give.
We should not consider longevity and flexibility separately. Take the router itself; designing the board to allow the flexibility of adding support for a USB device to future variants is good planning. Adding a spare memory socket to allow more caching, to assist with the expected line speed increase with a switch to FTTP is prudent. Designing software and board layouts to cope with an experimental processor and protocols; that only exist in a university study; are likely to be a waste of effort given the expected lifecycle. Designing the software that could still be in use[*] or the basis of the router you will release in 2030, to cope with dates beyond 2038[**] is likely to be worthwhile!
Ensure your design tool allows you to collate, process, link and trace your variants and plan for longevity. Whether this is via an inbuilt mechanism, such as Cradle variants, or by linking longevity requirements as separate items to your main system requirements.
There are negative connotations implied in that headline. Mistakes we make now will come back and bite us at a later point. “Yeah, yeah, it’s good enough, get it out the door and on the shelf” attitudes easily lead to high returns and subsequent costs and damaged reputation.
However, it is also possible to put a positive spin on the phrase. We should not just dismiss technology and engineering just because it is ‘old’. We should strive to improve it, but not necessarily replace it. The vinyl record has made a come back. Not necessarily to the same volume as its heyday, but sufficient to support new manufacturers, distribution channels and development and build of players. As with any technology it has its flaws. Easy to scratch, bulky and not portable, needs cleaning maintenance, has to be stored correctly so it does not warp. We solved some of these with the advent of cassette. Whilst it was portable, it was still possible to demagnetise it, it degraded over time, and was often too easy to produce a birds nest tangle. The mini disc, came and went, the CD was (and still is) fairly robust, and portable-ish. Digital storage and streaming are now main stream and today’s youth will question why on earth you would want a physical copy. A shelf full of physical albums with glossy covers may be a thing to treasure. A sense of true ownership, rarity – (you can’t just copy a record), has a place. Of course there are also the points that if your cloud service falls into liquidation, or we have a solar flare and its associated electromagnetic pulse, those with vinyl albums will still have music.
Records may be a light hearted example, but we find technology re-development constantly. Most apparent in the quest for cleaner energy, a landscape full of flour grinding or water pumping windmills, is now filled with wind turbines. Water wheels that turned industry’s cogs were replaced by coal burning steam engines, now hydro dams and the latest forays into floating tidal turbines off Orkney will once again be powering industry.
Don’t Lose Sight of the Past
Take a wheel, improve its manufacture, change its composition, but don’t reinvent a replacement, unless that is truly what is needed. If you have a wheel-like requirement, don’t forget to look to the past for inspiration. One of the core principles in Cradle’s evolution is that all past projects are convertible or importable to the latest version of the tool. So if you have a design for a record player in Cradle from 30+ years ago, you can import it into the latest version 7.6 and modernise the parts you need to tweak.
The public training course for June is Document Publisher course on the 23rd-24th. For System Administrators, the course in July is for you; “System Administration 21st July”. Book now if you would like to reserve a place. These public courses are open to all, great if you only have a couple of people needing training, or wish to get feedback from other candidates using the product. If you want a course specific to your company or with tailored content please don’t hesitate to contact email@example.com
We were interested to read how Temposonicsmagneto restrictive measurements could replace optical or resistive float and arm devices when measuring the level between two different liquids in a tank. We highlighted Cradle’s ability to check a combination of attributes for ‘uniqueness‘.
Up or Down, Left or Right, Design Requirement or Nice to Have?
Your view point of the same problem can determine what is most important to you. This can vary with the present instance in time, the current development stage, your financial exposure, the current risks and so on. Different groups will also have different perspectives on the same project. These may be from the view of a stakeholder, a designer, a product manufacturer or safety analyst.
Up or Down
To illustrate this consider a car moving on a hill. There will be a perspective shift depending whether you are currently driving up or down. Whether at that point in time the importance is the engine or the brakes. The engine design department will have an interest in making the vehicle powerful enough to meet the performance requirements. However, the brake designers will be concerned in how heavy the engine will make the vehicle. The sales team will be interested in the power and acceleration, the safety manager in meeting the stopping distance standards. Everyone is looking at the same overall project. Each group has a slightly different view.
Make sure your statements are unambiguous, don’t say left or right if there is no context of forward/backward. “The Data Entry swipe shall be placed to the Left of the door”, when you are facing the door or having walked through it? “The pipeline will turn Right at the harbour entrance….” without context of North and South this could be meaningless. If you were using directions stick to West and East, if you are describing a layout stick to a grid or co-ordinates with a defined origin.
The importance of good design is capturing the information once and then providing routes or view points to this singular source of data. The ‘performance’ criteria should link to both the acceleration and torque requirements as well as the breaking expectations. We should be able to look at a system design element and trace to the user requirement that raised it. Equally we should be able to view the original requirement and trace through the design to the test that shows the project provides what was asked for. It is also important to consider how this data is displayed; graphically, hierarchically, textually, within a tool or within a document or presentation. By using a single data repository you can be sure that whatever form or view is required it is based on a homogeneous system rather than disparate parts.
Considering the different audiences your Cradle contents may have, think and discuss with 3SL the best way to present this. Some methods are highlighted in this video.
The public training course for May covered Requirements Management. We’re lining up for June’s Document Publisher course on the 23rd-24th. Book now if you would like to reserve a place. These public courses are open to all, great if you only have a couple of people needing training, or wish to get feedback from other candidates using the product. If you want a course specific to your company or with tailored content please don’t hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org
We were impressed in the iterative lifecycle savings made over multiple productions of a product class, in Lockheed Martin‘s tweet.
The 12th of May is the anniversary of Florence Nightingale‘s birth. It is on this day that around the world the contributions that nurses make to society are commemorated.
Whilst doctors get due recognition for their life saving work, it is the hugely varied roles that nurses play that underpins the healthcare profession. From writing care plans for patients, assisting with evaluations and tests, checking and administering medicines and injections, setting up blood transfusions and drips, to observing and recording a patient’s condition.
There caring is not just for the patients, they mentor junior nurses and liaise with the relatives and friends of the sick.
Nurses play a huge role in the well-being of people all around the world. Take a moment of thought remember their efforts. This has, and continues to be, immeasurably important during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Whether you are in change of a nuclear reactor, or run a stall on the market, whether you fly a plane or enter data on a terminal, your safety and your businesses safety is an important consideration.
Time To Think
Organisations such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) encourage us to think and plan before a failure can take place. Businesses should take stock plan and mitigate. The fact that your company has a shelf full of risk assessments does not mean you or your business are safe. Shelfware can be more dangerous than a lightweight dynamic risk assessment performed as part of an engrained ethos. The only problem relying on engrained ideals is they may be difficult to prove in court and certainly difficult to time-stamp with a review date! There should be a balance between the two. Well thought out risk assessments, good training and monitoring and good cultural support.
Even if we achieve the grail of a well documented and used health and safety plan, there’s always a chance that things can change and go wrong. If you think something is a ‘bit dodgy’ or you can see an accident waiting to happen, you are as complicit in any failure as someone not following the rules or having considered H&S guidance in the first place. So think STOP if you think something is unsafe, raise your concern, do something about it (if it is safe to do so) but try your best not to let disaster happen.
I’m not sure we could count all the issues in the “Working at home scenario” above. Certainly the mitigation of a Hi-Vis jacket will have no benefit. We can categorically say this 3SL employee’s work station was tidied-up staged before this picture was taken! Reply to this Twitter post with the number of hazards you see.
World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2021 is on the 28th of April 2021, but safety and your health matters everyday.