The Octo+ Design Framework project

A road to virtual product development

The quality and cost-effectiveness of the product innovation process for high-tech systems can be much improved through the introduction of a ‘virtual prototype’ of the integrated product. Such an approach, when supported by appropriate software tooling, can significantly reduce the number of design and implementation cycles. It will also reduce or eliminate the need for physical prototypes.

Virtual product prototyping requires a multiplicity of models to be considered simultaneously in order to validate and verify the system. These models will be from different disciplinary origins and cover different system-level aspects. The challenge today is to offer effective and easy-to-use tool functionality that enables this virtual integration and is accepted by architects and designers in their daily work. The Design Framework is a dedicated method and toolset that supports system architects with their virtual approach to system design.

Octo+ Design Framework

Application

The lead users of the Design Framework (DF) are system architects of Océ R&D, a Canon company and leader in the development of world-class professional printers. These users act in a challenging environment where many different disciplines work closely together to come to successful printer products. These disciplines range from chemists designing inks, mechanics designing machine layouts, electronics and embedded software designers, to designers constructing human-machine interactions. Furthermore, the professional deployment of the printers impose additional requirements regarding print quality, productivity, robustness and cost-of-ownership, providing a demanding and stimulating application context for virtual design techniques.

Research results

The Octo+ Design Framework project team developed a model-based approach that supports the system architects in maintaining a coherent view of a system-under-development. The project focuses on techniques to capture and communicate system requirements across stakeholders, to manage qualitative and quantitative dependencies between system properties, and to verify cross-functional dependencies. The supporting DF toolset provides a number of dedicated functions to manage the integration and interoperability of heterogeneous (model-based) design formalisms, such as being used for mechanical, electrical and software engineering.

The DF capabilities to support architects in their professional role include:

  • capture and analyse system-level requirements and critical design parameters
  • analyse design trade-offs and communicate those between design teams
  • reason with parameterized system models of any nature
  • create architectural overviews to capture architectural dilemmas
  • execute consistency checks across subsystem designs or (mono-disciplinary) system models
  • analyse the impact of (sub)system design changes on critical design parameters
  • integrate virtual prototyping with experimental data from laboratory setups or executable design models

Value proposition

The approach developed by the DF project is general in nature and can be applied in product development activities of a broad variety of product applications and industrial domains. It is of particular interest to the high-tech industry as it provides for effective means for early detection of design flaws, e.g. through capabilities for consistency checks across multi-disciplinary models and impact analysis of proposed design changes. The value of these capabilities are well-recognized as they support high-tech industry in terms of improved product quality and product development efficiency.