How Do I Connect Design Data and Requirements for Faster Design and Fewer Errors?

Created: September 27, 2023
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The intricacies of electronic design and the challenges they present have never been more pronounced. As devices become more interconnected, the need for efficient, error-free design processes becomes paramount. Modern electronic design challenges emphasize the importance of connecting design data with requirements. With tools like Altium 365 Requirements Manager powered by Valispace, designers can navigate these complexities, ensuring faster designs with fewer errors or with the new VAM connection datasheet pdf. Discover how this integration can facilitate your design process and how you can benefit from it!

Modern Design Process Challenges

The proliferation of smart devices in our daily lives has led to a staggering increase in the complexity of electronic designs. Over the past 40 years, chip usage has surged by 100 times. To put this in perspective, while an electric vehicle from a few decades ago might have contained 10 to 20 chips, today's vehicles are equipped with over 2,000 chips. 

The software embedded in these products has grown fifteenfold in the last decade, escalating from 10 million lines of code to a whopping 150 million lines. This increase in electronics usage has significantly impacted costs. For instance, in the 1970s, electronics accounted for about 10% of a vehicle's cost. Today, that figure stands at 40%, and projections indicate that by 2030, electronics will constitute half of a vehicle's total cost.

The challenges don't end there. The production timelines for these intricate products have been slashed by three times. What used to take five years now needs to be accomplished in just two. This urgency has driven many companies to adopt agile methodologies, borrowing principles from software development. By segmenting designs into project phases, companies can foster continuous collaboration and improvement. This approach emphasizes faster iterations, allowing teams to refine design concepts through simulation codesign and coengineering. Such strategies demand extensive simulation and swift prototyping to test outcomes and make quick adjustments.

Historically, electronics have been a vulnerable point in the hardware development chain. Despite bridging the physical and digital realms of design, electronic data often exists in isolated silos. Information transfer between these silos is manual and cumbersome, involving static file formats, printouts, and even physical exchanges like flash drives. This inefficient process consumes an average of 159 hours per engineer annually. Such communication gaps can compromise product quality, leading to defects and tarnishing a company's reputation.

Furthermore, the absence of traceability prolongs the time required to trace design changes. It's not uncommon for up to 80% of designs to undergo last-minute component alterations due to cost or availability constraints. Such abrupt changes, especially without backup options, can derail the entire design process. According to Lifecycle Insights, on average, companies face 2.8 board respins, costing around $46,000 per respin. Minimizing respins and enhancing communication is thus beyond the question. 

Crafting Connectivity Across Design Domains

That’s why, at Altium, we recognize that PCB design is one piece of the puzzle. The most significant challenges arise at the intersections of various design domains. Cross-functional collaboration, while essential, can be a minefield of miscommunication, especially when teams "speak different languages" in terms of design intent.

Altium 365 is a platform created to unify diverse teams and facilitate communication. It serves as a central hub for electronics design, bringing together professionals from various functions to collaborate without obstacles. 

Interestingly, over 30% of our current users aren't electrical engineers or designers, which are the traditional users of Altium Designer. This shift underscores our commitment to fostering interdisciplinary collaboration. Our partnership with industry specialists, such as Valispace, further amplifies this mission.

The overarching goal is to ensure everyone is "at the same table" with a platform that offers comprehensive visibility throughout the development process, spanning all functions and domains. This holistic approach ensures different levels of visibility among various stakeholders and tools, including the capability to codesign within mechanical environments.

Altium 365 enables different applications and integrations that assist you in your general product development process. Today, we’ll focus on the Requirements Manager within Altium 365.

How Can I Connect Design Data and Requirements?

Requirements are pivotal not just at the start of a design but remain crucial throughout its lifecycle. They need to be framed in the proper context to ensure a project's success.

The core challenge the Requirements Manager addresses is enhancing the visibility of your requirements. This tool provides a structured methodology to ensure that requirements are applied accurately and in the right context to confirm their compliance. It integrates real-time updates for both requirements and design data. You can place requirements directly within any aspect of the design data, be it the schematic or the PCB layout, and you’ll get unparalleled digital traceability, allowing teams to track the who, what, when, where, and why of all requirements.

This holistic approach impacts the entire electronics lifecycle. It begins with jotting down initial requirements and delves deep into concurrent design. The iterative loops primarily occur between detailed design simulations, reviews, and technical change management. The goal is to ensure that the final electronic design aligns with the initial requirements, undergoes the necessary reviews, and maintains full traceability.

What is the Valispace V Model?

Valispace V Model encapsulates the entire journey from product specification to design and verification. By embedding engineering data within your requirements, you adopt a data-driven approach. For instance, if a requirement specifies a voltage of 5 volts, this value is linked to formulas, calculations, and simulations. This interconnectedness ensures the entire engineering team is aligned, bridging the gap between systems engineers, electronics designers, and the subsequent QA process.

The final step involves verifying and validating the product. The aim is to confirm that the system design adheres to the requirements. This is where automated verification and validation play a crucial role. The system can instantly verify that a requirement has been implemented and generate verification matrices to ensure comprehensive validation.

In practical terms, consider the development of a vehicle. If a stakeholder requests an increase in the car's range, an engineer might augment the number of battery modules. Valispace recalculates the battery's properties and related attributes like car mass and braking distance. This ensures full traceability of changes and their system-wide impact. Valispace can then rerun simulations, update documentation, verify requirements, and notify the relevant engineers. What traditionally took weeks of manual updates, meetings, and emails is now accomplished in mere seconds, ensuring everyone remains synchronized during the design process. That’s why the fusion of Altium 365 and Valispace is so powerful.

3 Major Benefits of Valispace & Altium 365 Integration

#1 Accelerate Your Design Process

The strengths of Valispace's requirements management combined with Altium 365 can supercharge your design process. By facilitating smooth communication across different stages of the design process, you significantly cut down the time traditionally spent trying to communicate. On average, the Valispace users see a 30% time reduction on administrative tasks.

The tool is equipped with comment functionality so you can interact with others directly within the context of your design. Just as you'd place a comment on a specific point or area, you can now integrate requirements in the same intuitive manner.

Placing a Requirement on Your Layout

#2 Analyze Requirement Change Impact

With this integration, you gain a clear understanding of how a single change can ripple through your entire project. Thanks to this insight, you can anticipate the broader implications of any adjustments, ensuring everyone involved is aligned and informed.

#3 Automate Risk Assessment and Compliance

Stay ahead of potential pitfalls with automated risk assessments and compliance checks. By understanding how design changes impact the broader team and process, you can strategize solutions before minor issues escalate. Moreover, anticipating supply chain challenges, you can proactively incorporate additional components or alternative parts, ensuring your project remains on track and resilient to unforeseen disruptions.

Why Are Dynamic Requirements Visibility and Reuse Useful?

Dynamic requirements visibility and reuse are useful because they allow you to see changes to requirements as they happen, ensuring you're always working with the latest information. Valispace and Altium 356 integration allow:

  • Real-Time Requirements Tables - It's crucial to understand the requirements within the design context. With real-time tables, you're always in sync with the latest requirements, eliminating communication delays. As soon as a requirement changes, you're instantly notified.
  • Requirements Search, Filter, and Traceability - Easily sift through requirements using search and filter tools. This feature allows you to track the origin, application, and verification status of each requirement, giving you a clear picture of the project's progress.
  • Master Follow Feature - This asset automatically updates related parameters within the requirements. For instance, if a component's weight changes, its impact is instantly reflected throughout the system, eliminating the risks associated with manual updates and potential oversights.
  • Verification Assignment Matrix (VAM) - A dedicated matrix aids in the testing process, ensuring each requirement's verification status is clear. This provides a more transparent view of where requirements have been implemented and their current status.
  • Data-Driven Calculation Engine - This engine makes the information flow smoothly between different areas, facilitating a more comprehensive impact analysis and preventing unnecessary recalculations.
  • Impact Analysis - You can optimize your designs against constraints and make iterative changes. The goal is to approach hardware development with the flexibility and adaptability seen in software development.
  • Qualitative Risk Assessment and Mitigation - The tool helps you make informed decisions backed by concrete data. It ensures that every step you take is documented so you never forget the rationale behind it.
  • Customizable Compliance Reports - This feature allows you to generate detailed reports that provide traceability for future reference. These reports validate that your design aligns with the set specifications.
  • Real-Time Requirement Insights - The dynamic nature of the system means you're always in tune with real-time updates, even mid-design. Imagine working on a schematic and seeing a requirement update. With this feature, you can instantly adjust your design, ensuring it remains aligned with the latest requirements.

Watch Overview Demonstration

Are you interested to learn how it looks in practice? Watch a demo of Altium 365 Requirements Manager integration with Valispace!

Contact us

The Requirements Manager powered by Valispace accelerates the design process, offers insights into the implications of changes, and facilitates risk assessments. The real-time data links and dynamic requirement navigation provide immediate clarity, eliminating the need to switch between platforms. This bi-directional connection ensures everyone understands the design intent and any alterations made. Would you like to connect design data and requirements to design faster and with fewer errors? Contact us!

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