Systems Engineering Concept Tool and Method Applied to Unmanned Undersea Vehicle Design Open Access
With unprecedented budget cuts resulting from Sequestration and a United States economy that has not yet rebounded, `do more with less' is the new motto for both industry and government. However, that is easier said than done. With 70% of a product's life cycle cost set at the concept development, industry and government have little room to save until new products or improvement programs can be started. Today's budget reductions call for ever-increasing innovation not only in technology development but in the very way programs are managed, planned, and executed. New product development has become the critical factor in the longevity of a business or government organization. With only 52% of new product launched meeting their financial goal and 41% of meeting their launch date (Kahn, 2013), there is still large risk in developing a new product with current methods. With the technology development pace increasing, new competition from global markets, and the push to reduce cost in a tight economy, the successful process of new product development will separate the winners from the losers. While the concept development phase of new product development is the most influential in mitigating risk, cost, and determining product performance; it is the least resourced and defined. New product developments that were successful usually spent twice as much resource in the concept development stage as those new products that failed. With less than 50% of the products introduced to the market having successful launches, not fully resourcing this phase is Penny wise, but Pound foolish. Even in the Department of Defense (DoD), a large majority of programs are over budget and behind schedule. Current Analyses of Alternatives (AoAs) are often reduced in scope, a shortcut taken in a misguided attempt to save costs and shorten the time to production, often to the point where thorough analyses are not performed. The potential for failing to identify many viable and perhaps superior alternatives therefore exists. This research develops a five-step systems engineering method to quickly open the trade space examined as part of the AoA in DoD and trade studies in the commercial market, and to quickly identify a finite and manageable number of optimal solutions that can be studied in more depth. The five-step systems engineering methodology described in this dissertation will take the GAO recommendations discussed below into account and enable their implementation. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has recommended new criteria be established to increase the number of alternatives considered by DoD AoAs. The recommended systems engineering concept tradeoff method proposes to increase the number of alternatives considered, incorporate risk assessment of the technology selection, and incorporate the cost of systems engineering and development of lower Technology Readiness Level (TRL) technologies into the current AoA process. While this method can not be entirely verified and validated until implemented by acquisition programs, the method should increase the likelihood of successful programs that, if sufficiently resourced, could deliver on time and on budget. The five-step systems engineering concept method developed in this research is applied to a UUV concept design to illustrate the feasibility of the method, but can be extended to other system types in the future. Research was completed to determine the critical parameters to run the concept tradeoff tool (CTT) including genetic operator selection, population size and the number of generations needed to meet data quality parameters. The CTT is run as a function of those parameters and the results are described. This research demonstrates it is possible to implement the steps of the method to a UUV design from information available in the research community literature and provide a tool that quickly searches the available UUV design solution space dependent on the user's criteria. This research demonstrates the new five-step systems engineering concept tradeoff method on a UUV design. The method allows for a more rapid search of the design solution space. It is expected that use of this method will increase the robustness of the pre-Milestone B systems engineering effort, and thereby decrease the probability of program cost and schedule overruns.
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