Dr Mauro Pasquinelli is a project partner in Use-It-Wisely and he works for Thales Alenia Space – Italia (TAS-I). He is coordinating the definition and development of a novel methodology and related toolchain to support the development of highly technical products in the space domain.
In research Cluster 3, Use-It-Wisely is developing an IT architecture which will provide TAS-I customers with better service offerings. Once it is fully operational, this IT system may be used by other industries which develop highly technical products. This IT system includes a web-based prototype developed by TAS-I, called DEVICE Web Environment. It provides the possibility to create a virtual model of a spacecraft, in terms of technical data, related simulations and 3D visualisations, to be used by technical teams to quickly design a spacecraft according to customer needs. This prototype is integrated with other web based tools developed by Vastalla (another project partner in the Cluster 3) which focuses on managing teamwork and the direct interface with the customer.
This IT system will improve the spacecraft development process in various ways including:
- Capturing and anticipating customer’s needs
- Capturing customer’s feedback on proposed solutions e.g. if the proposed solution has not met specific technical or cost constraints
- Understanding customer’s needs
- Assisting in the redesign of operations
- Provide, to a technically knowledgeable customer, easily interpreted and process worthy outputs (simulations, structured technical data to be processed in a model-based environment, 3D visualisations)
So far, the IT system has undergone three trials. The first trial focussed on establishing the data requirements of engineers; the second trial assessed how customers could access the system and how people internally, from designers to engineers, connected with the interface. And the third trial, which was run in Turin, Italy in July 2015, combined all of the tools and IT developments from previous trials. The updated system was then shared and tested among all relevant Use-It-Wisely partners.
The next step will be to demonstrate that the IT system is functional and the proposed methodology has relevance in the current business environment. A demonstration will take place next year where a greater volume of complex data will be added to the system. This will be a ‘real life’ test of the functional capacity and capability of the new Use-It-Wisely model, using an innovative project studied in TAS, called Space Tug.
Not only will this solution improve communications externally between the organisation and its customers; it will also improve communications between designers, operators, manufacturers and other internal stakeholders. And while we are testing the system in the space environment, it may be used across any industry where highly technical products are designed and manufactured. The way the tools and the data structure are defined, allows the customisation of the approach according to different industrial domains. This has been studied with other project partners who are not in the space domain (especially with the University of Malaga). If our demonstration this year is successful, our IT system could have a far reaching impact in the industrial design and development process.