QIF Case Study: Maintaining the Digital Thread from OEM to Supplier

NIST: 2019 MBE Summit
April 1-4, 2019 in Gaithersburg MD
Theme: Democratizing the Implementation of MBE
Paper Title: A QIF Case Study – Maintaining the Digital Thread from OEM to Supplier
Authors: Ryan Gelotte, Jennifer Herron, and Lionel Andujar

Reflections by Ryan Gelotte
Action Engineering, CTO

I always look forward to attending the annual MBE Summit event to hear from industry experts about the latest trends in Model-Based Definition (MBD) and Model-Based Enterprise (MBE). One key area that is crucial to the success of MBD and MBE is interoperability, and the Summit always includes several expert presentations by those defining interoperability standards. It is crucial that events like this take place so that the standards experts can mingle with implementors such as Action Engineering to discuss what is working, what is not working and what advancements in standards and technology are needed to continue furthering the success of MBD.

At this year’s Summit, there were a wide array of presentations this year, ranging from case studies informing attendees about actual MBD and MBE projects in industry segments as well as presentations reporting on advancements in the works around standards, technology and software. Every presentation offered something unique and each one was very informative. There were even some round table discussions that took place which included some very candid conversations about the topics being discussed. For example: some in the room did not know what “QIF” was and others thought it was a “software” or just another “file format”. Through our round table discussion, those who were not as familiar with QIF came to understand that it is an interoperability “framework”, not just a file format.

One of the things I appreciate the most about this conference is the diversity of attendees. There were MBD and MBE experts who are directly responsible for the success of MBD and MBE today as well as attendees who are just beginning their MBD/MBE journeys. This diversity results in discussions about new trends in MBD and MBE but also guarantees that topics that have been discussed for years continue to be discussed. For those of us who have been involved with MBD/MBE for quite some time the discussions allow us to reap and affirm the benefits of hindsight. The discussions also provide us the chance to reflect on what we might have done differently 4-5 years ago had we known what we know today and had access to the technology and standards now available.

A gathering of experts like the Summit has the potential to showcase a variety of opinions and methodologies which are vital for democratizing MBD/MBE. For this reason, I definitely concur with everything presented at the Summit. What was particularly exciting to me at this point in my MBD/MBE career was that some of the content was rather forward thinking. Not surprisingly, new methods and tools will likely take time to come to fruition, but knowing where we are heading benefits what we are doing today.

Many of those attending the Summit represent software vendors and standards committees, people that Action Engineering interacts with on a regular basis. Several of our customers also attended and while we consider ourselves experts, we will never claim to have all of the answers. There is something to be said to learning about the latest trends along side our customers, which not only generates excitement but also increases our chances of mutual success.

Specific to my presentation, “A QIF Case Study – Maintaining the Digital Thread from OEM to Supplier”, there are three points I’d like to highlight:

1) The case study described how MBD principles can be adopted by an OEM and offer value to the supply chain. This has been a major hurdle for large OEM’s to overcome because in order for them to realize all of the value MBD has to offer, their supply chain has to adopt those same MBD principles.

2) The case study demonstrated the necessity for interoperability solutions that leverage industry standards. Let’s face it, not everyone is going to use the same brand of technology whether it be CAD, metrology equipment or CMM programming software. The only way to successfully implement MBD and MBE is by leveraging the interoperability standards that are available to all of us.

3) The case study emphasized the necessity of validation because data is being translated. Without validation there would be very little trust across all of the silos involved in and MBE implementation and costly mistakes would occur.

We had a good crowd in the room for this case study presentation, and our findings were well received. One person asked “why does this look so complicated?” when referring to a slide that showed all of the connected software and processes discussed in the presentation. It just shows that implementing MBD and MBE principles is a complex process that involves many stakeholders. In fact, when compared to existing OEM-to-supplier hand-off processes, what was presented was not nearly as complex, was much more efficient and less ambiguous.

Overall, the Summit reinforced the fact that the success of MBE requires a village for initial buy-in, implementation and commitment. However, every industry sector and anyone involved in manufacturing – whether it’s process, production or training – has a greater responsibility to collaborate in events such as the Summit to ensure that the momentum and best-practices around MBE continues. My hope is that we see more MBD and MBE industry case studies at future MBE Summits because it is critical to hear the good the bad and the ugly that is happening out there as MBD/MBE continues to evolve.

Ryan Gelotte, CTO Action EngineeringReach out if you have questions about the services Action Engineering provides, or have additional thoughts to share about MBD, MBE or future MBE Summits.

Ryan Gelotte
CTO, Action Engineering
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