end-to-end project data repository

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System schematic overview

Technology abstract

A web-based tool that supports the system engineering and project data configuration management process end-to-end: from building a product tree to requirement development and verification, to documentation management and interface detailing.
Benefits: a single data-location, auto-generated reports, simple single-process flow, access for teams. Main benefit is in the knowledge of which data and which relationships to develop for a given project standard and queries,.

The technology seems to be promising as (design) project tool for UAV and drone's, since this is a market with many small players needing to develop high-complexity products (planes, drones, etc.)

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Technology Description

Albatros (Automated Listing, Budgeting And Tracing RepOSitory) is a concept and implementation invented in 2004 by Delta-Utec. It was developed to enable small companies to meet the ESA / Human Spaceflight standards (ECSS, GPQ-MAN-01) – in the context of the YES2 experiment on Foton-M3 (based on).
Albatros is an application on top of a relational database with an architecture that allows to cover the end-to-end need for system engineering and configuration management into a single and simple way of working. It has functionalities such as:
requirements & flow-down, V&V auto-documentation; single location for document and test registration; full product tree down to bolt level, mass budget; inventory management, assembly tracing; advanced features for interfaces, harness and signals
It is developed because of the need for an affordable, customizable end-to-end solution for Project & Process Data Management, improving quality & efficiency, while enabling them to conform to ECSS standards. Such requirements have so far proven to be conflicting, the result is that such companies work without a quality system. Larger companies' operations are hampered by having multiple tools operated by a PA officer, to which the engineers have little or no access. It often requires duplication, there is a real risk of having inconsistent or outdated data. There is typically no integration between quality and system engineering tools, and much work that could be automated still is done on paper. Applications that Albatros can be compared to are DOORS, Virtual Spacecraft Design, ECLIPSE, yet it combines all these tools’ capabilities into a single environment and single way of working, and in a stripped-down manner where possible. DOORS is a specialist requirement tool that has very limited scope and requires the team to present data to the specialist. It does not involve the team into the requirement process and provides no transparency to the team. The Virtual Spacecraft Design project is an effort to integrate engineering and configuration management (model based systems engineering), following much the same logic and is in some ways more capable but is much larger and heavier as an application, again for specialists. ECLIPSE is an easy access combination of a number of basic tools and goes someway into providing an integrated approach to space project management, but it is limited in capability and performance.
Original Benefits for users:
A single location for all project data guarantees convergence and consistency. Auto- generated reports limit the amount of overhead. A single simple way of working for each process limits the learning curve. Access for the whole team (with access level control) allows more ownership and work sharing for the formal side of the project. The primary added-value is in the knowledge of which data and which relationships to develop for a given project and standard, as well as which queries and which auto-reports to make. This sounds trivial but is not (compare e.g. ESA-P specification). It is the key difference between successful uptake (minimal overhead, every data entry action is useful) and failure (duplicate information, ambiguous relationships).
Delta-Utec seeks a development partner to modernize and extend the capability and benefit by a share in the proceeds of sales resulting from such a development.

Innovations & Advantages

Albatros is based on an innovative combination of essential ideas:
- A web-based interface; Unlimited number of users; Single location for all system engineering, configuration management and traceability data; A single way of working for all interactions; Auto-generation of documents and diagrams; design decision tracing. Tailored to the project needs. Full log of all changes, baselines. By resolving the problem of how to represent and interact with this wide variety of data in a single way, it is the first space project tool that guarantees consistency, design convergence and transparency. Automated document generation for product tree, requirement verification, harness production, detailed mass budget etc. greatly reduces the common sentiment of documentation overhead.
Albatros YES2 contains about 100.000 interconnected configuration items, and has immediate response to data update and query submission.
Albatros demonstrated at least doubled productivity through its simple learning curve, design convergence and guaranteed consistency. (For reference, we achieved the full objectives of ESA GSTP's 10 MEuro Tether System Experiment proposal, at a budget of about 1.5 Meuro). At the same time, 180 students received hands-on training, and in fact, they did the detailed design, construction and verification of every single component of the experiment. (Note that student involvement is usually quoted as a distraction leading to additional management cost and lack of design convergence). The benefit of a single-interface end-to- end configuration management and system engineering solution for space was clearly demonstrated.

Further Information

Unfortunately, the customized hardcoded implementation made it impossible to offer the tool at an affordable price to other SMEs. Also workflow support is very limited. Such support would also allow SAP type usage. Overall the underlying technology is by now outdated (PhP, AJAX, JAVA). This is why a development partner is sought.

Current and Potential Domains of Application

Engineering of complex systems with medium to high criticality: space, aviation, UAV's, civil, medical