Project Management for Cyber-Physical Systems Development

Author: Anish Prabhu | September 7, 2022

Internet diagram of cyber physical systems

Cyber-physical Systems and PLM

Our world is getting smarter, but we don’t necessarily mean that our intelligence is expanding. Our pursuit of “smart” technology is increasing, in everything we do, use, and interact with. We want “smart” phones, watches, appliances, cars, homes, offices, and even entire cities – and the list grows each day. The term “smart” is a high-level view of concepts and technologies that combine to encompass what we think of as smart technologies, including cyber-physical systems (CPSs).

Cyber-physical systems are smart systems where physical and software components are deeply intertwined. In CPSs embedded software uses a network to control real-world interactions and transmit data. CPSs create a feedback loop that helps refine performance at the intersection of the physical and cyber elements. It comprises technologies like Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud computing.

Cyber-physical systems and related technologies hold great potential for advancing the automotive, aerospace, medical device, and other industries that impact the global economy in everything from driverless cars and robotic surgery to emergency response and traffic management.

With great technology comes great complexity. The components of cyber-physical systems projects are intricately related and networked. Cyber-physical systems are by their nature more difficult to design, model, simulate, analyze, test, and bring to fruition. This is especially true when it comes to software development, which is a complex process in and of itself. The fusion of mechanical and software design and development needed for cyber-physical systems integration requires more advanced approaches than traditional product development methods. Agile product development, which relies on collaboration and flexibility, can be challenging to navigate with such complexities.

The more complex a cyber-physical system is, the more room there is for problems to occur, and the greater the importance of quality management. Because of their relationship to human safety, products in regulated industries require comprehensive, continuous verification, and validation, as well as physical systems and embedded software testing . And the more complicated a system is, the more vulnerabilities it could have. Even with similar names, CPSs and cybersecurity are different concepts, but they are linked. With how intricate they are, CPSs require more traditional approaches to ensure the cybersecurity of the software and physical components, but also more advanced tools like authentication, cryptography, and encryption.

In case you haven’t noticed, cyber-physical systems are both sophisticated and convoluted. So, they demand refined product lifecycle management (PLM) beyond simple physical or embedded system project management. CPSs bring different and additional artifacts, requirements, documents, multi-domain lifecycles, and multifaceted teams into a PLM that is already crowded.

The best way to overcome these challenges is through a systematic approach to PLM. This is most efficiently and effectively achieved using an application lifecycle management (ALM) tool, one that enhances requirements management, traceability, documentation, testing capabilities, collaboration, personalization, and customization.   At Sterling PLM, we know how to tackle cyber-physical systems. We help engineering companies across the globe implement proven processes that govern the design and development of their high-tech, advanced engineered products, while leveraging software that tracks processes with greater visibility across the enterprise. We have decades of combined experience consulting in highly regulated industries for a variety of manufacturers—from small start-ups to large global organizations—and we’ve spent years cultivating unique skills and concentrated expertise in the business of engineering. We specialize in regulatory-compliant software ALMs that help customers track project artifacts across the entire project lifecycle. We offer aerospace, automotive, medical device, and embedded systems consulting services that can help boost your competitive edge in the market. Please contact us today.

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