Mentor tools move electrical design utility across the enterprise - Embedded.com

Mentor tools move electrical design utility across the enterprise

Mentor Graphics has expanded its Capital product suite used for electrical system and wire harness design flow in the automotive, aerospace, and defense industries. The tool package now includes three new products that extend that flow both upstream and downstream to address configuration complexity, harness manufacturing, and vehicle documentation and maintenance—covering development from product definition into the service technician's realm. The tools target platform OEMs, wire harness manufacturers, and service organizations (dealers and military field personnel).

Two of the new tools address configuration complexity management. The first, the Capital Level Manager, uses a feature-led design paradigm to provide a quantitative link between marketing and engineering, delivering numerical feedback of configuration complexity and the resulting costs. Configuration simplification via a process known as “give-away” is supported, as is validation against product marketing plans.

Capital Level Manager, is typically used at early-stage platform definition, but can also add value during the production design phase by assessing and helping to mitigate the configuration complexity impact of new optional features. “Given the massive complexities in part numbers, the ability to perform cost estimates quickly—while validating the designs—delights our OEM customers and provides an efficiency gain measurable in tangible dollars,” said early user Bill Presley, director of Global Wire Engineering at Lear.


The second new tool to tackle configuration complexity is Capital ModularXC. While supporting the traditional composite (superset) paradigm, this tool also focuses on the alternative modular process where multiple configurations are constructed from harness fragments related to optional features (as in option packages in the automotive industry). These fragments are analogous to letters of an alphabet from which many words can be constructed. The ModularXC tool automates definition of the fragments, ensuring compatibility and managing additional components: Implementing the “spelling rules” of modular design. The tool can also be combined with the existing Capital technology called “modular synthesis” to implement a highly automated, front-to-back modular flow.

The Capital ModularXC tool can also be applied to the manufacturing engineering domain. While the finished wire harness depends on the optional features it supports, the build process typically involves multiple sub-assemblies. Though related, these sub-assemblies are certainly not identical to the feature-driven fragments but are instead chosen to optimize manufacturing or logistical efficiency. The Capital ModularXC can capture the sub-assemblies’ syntax to ensure the correct harness bill-of-materials is always created, whichever pattern of optional features must be supported.

The Capital ModularXC tool complements the existing Capital tools targeted at harness manufacturing tasks, such as formboard design. (Mentor expects to announce additional Capital tools supporting manufacturing engineering tasks later this year).

The third new tool, Capital Publisher, accelerates electrical system documentation and vehicle service and repair. This package streamlines technical publications preparation by assembling electrical design information such as schematics, wire lists, and location views into formatted electronic documentation packages. Combining several technologies, such as diagram synthesis and styling, Publisher can accept electrical design data from the upstream Capital design tools or from third-party products. As an electrically intelligent application, Capital Publisher can validate and/or repartition incoming information, and also reflect as-built (as distinct from as-designed) data.

The Publisher tool also provides an intuitive and highly productive environment for service technicians. This client application will greatly simplify troubleshooting of complex electrical systems. Functionality includes valuable capabilities such as signal tracing and related object navigation. Delivered as a “zero software installation,” the tool requires the simplest of IT environments and can integrate with diagnostics systems. The data presented to service technicians can also be made vehicle-specific (via VIN or aircraft tail number), further simplifying the task where high numbers of different vehicle configurations are

The Publisher tool allows for VIN or tail number specific technical documentation and service, as shown on this partial screen capture of signal tracing.

The three new tools expand the Capital product range beyond electrical system and wire harness design into an extended define-design-build-service capability.

Mentor notes it continues to add integration capabilities to tools beyond the scope of the Capital suite. For example, standard integrations are now available between the Capital suite and the Mentor Volcano Vehicle System Architect and the SystemVision product. These provide an extended EE design flow (encompassing the embedded software, network design, and electrical domains) and mechatronic system simulation respectively. Multiple integrations with third-party tools are also available.

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