Is Constant Dripping Better than Waterfall?
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Is Constant Dripping Better than Waterfall?

By Energy CIO Insights | Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Aucotec AG, a software developer for more than 35 years, is now setting new standards in Parallelizing engineering processes.

FREMONT, CA: "The" waterfall process is gone. No designer can wait until the previous project step is finished. Therefore, he starts without the results of the neighbouring discipline in his tool. The other departments do the same. This needs interdisciplinary comparisons repeatedly. There are also inevitable external corrections because of the changing customer requirements or framework conditions, with an impact on all disciplines. This leads to a lengthy, error-prone cycle of change transfers. It becomes even more complex with parallel "waterfalls", where the new version of a released process step is edited, while the others are still developing based on an earlier release.

Data pool secures information flow

Thus, the waterfall model is not only a thing of the past because of excessively long waiting times, but also because water does not flow uphill, i.e. backwards - and toolchains only support a predefined sequence. This is why Aucotec developed the cooperation platform Engineering Base (EB). It combines all core disciplines of the machine and plant design into one system. Its central data model ensures that every change in each domain involved is immediately visible to everyone and can be further edited directly. To stick with the water image: the model is like a pond in which circles of ripples spread out as a result of each new drop of water. Likewise, each input into EB's single source of truth immediately reaches every discipline – an existential prerequisite for mastering complex scenarios.

Parallel becomes agile

With several innovations, Aucotec has now optimized EB to such an extent that the next step, agile engineering, is possible. In addition to the established data tracking with complete change history in which it is possible to configure whatever changes you want to see individually, there is attribute-level rights assignment, which enables you to define who may see and edit which status. This only works because EB focuses on data instead of documents. Restrictive rights concerning objects are not significant here, as each item exists only once, but different disciplines work on it, even in parallel. A process engineer edits a pump just like the electrical expert, but for other aspects. EB is all about simultaneity.

Besides, the data and the entire plant structure are protected against inadvertent changes. This applies below objects as well as above them ("glue to parent"). Agile work is only possible with this cross-disciplinary certainty, which does not require the "freezing" of data, but enables continuous visibility of progress in neighbouring disciplines and immediate usability of new data for one's tasks. As a result, the much closer interlinking of the disciplines eliminates the need for waiting times and continuous changes back and forth between departments and contributes enormous gains in terms of efficiency.  

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