Industry trends such as Digitalization, Electric Mobility, Automated Driving and Connected Car significantly increase the interactions of technical subsystems in complex, mechatronic products. However, established development processes are component-oriented. As GAUSEMEIER puts it, a shift towards development processes and methods that focus on product functions is necessary in order to strengthen customer-orientation, so called function-oriented product development. In addition, observations in development practice have shown that products are not developed on a white sheet of paper, but rather through the systematic variation of technical subsystems over generations, as described in the model of PGE-Product Generation Development by ALBERS. But how can function-orientation in product development be supported based on the model of PGE-Product Generation Engineering?
In this contribution, an empirical study is carried out in order to identify major challenges of Systems Engineering in the age of Digitalization. According to the experts, consequently focusing on product functions throughout the development process is a promising ... mehrway to successfully meet those challenges. Considering the practical needs of the experts of Systems Engineering, the model of PGE-Product Generation Engineering is advanced by engineering generations that support structuring the development process of a product generation and support function-orientation. An engineering generation states the intended customer, user and provider benefit of a product generation in development and supports harmonizing solution-open product attributes and functions with the solution-specific development of technical subsystems. This enables customer-orientation in the development of complex mechatronic products. Furthermore, engineering generations are exemplary applied in the complete vehicle development of a German OEM. Based on the understanding of engineering generations discussed in this contribution, processes and methods can be developed in the context of the model of PGE-Product Generation Engineering to support function-orientation throughout the development process. In particular by defining and validating engineering generations from a customer and user point of view and modeling the dependencies between product attributes and technical subsystems based on product functions.