The Concurrent Engineering Facility (CEF) is a system analysis laboratory, used as a tool for feasibility studies in the conception phase for space systems and missions. In the so-called “Concurrent Engineering Process”, various domain experts work concurrently on a shared technical design. Thus, the product development time is reduced (time saving), later design changes will be prevented (cost saving) and the coordination of design and production shall be improved (quality improvement).
Working in a guided process, the concurrent access of all experts on a shared database and the direct verbal and medial communication of all subsystems among one another are characteristic for the outmost positive results of the completed Concurrent Engineering Studies so far. In several joint, moderated “design-sessions,” system-relevant aspects are discussed and agreed upon, data is synchronised and basic decisions are made by using an integrated data model. The free time in between is used by e.g. splinter-groups for analyses, calculations, documentations and discussions which provide the basis for the following iterative procedure up to a pre-defined design stage.
There are various application areas of the CEF. Besides internal set-ups, analysis and evaluating of system concepts, the facility offers several services. The customer-oriented contact is most important here. The focus on CEF applications is in the space sector. Nevertheless, a transfer of technologies from and to other fields such as aviation, energy, transportation or construction engineering has been requested. The transfer is tested according to the its applicability and if it is found to be applicable, it is implemented.
The Concurrent Engineering Facility has been operational since January 2009.In order to establish and adjust the Concurrent Engineering (CE) Process in the Institute, as well as to gain valuable information for the best set up of the CEF, two consecutive design workshops (DWS) were organised previously. These workshops were supported by ESA personnel and the first studies were conducted with reduced technical equipment. The bandwidth of objects that have been analysed so far comprises of satellites, space transport systems, exploration modules and respective mission architectures. The following is a overview of the one to three week CE-studies which have been conducted so far: