以战略数字化为抓手,打破开发成本上升规律 | Breaking the law of rising development costs with strategic digitalization


Augustine’s “Law XVI” noted that every generation of aircraft is more expensive than the last, and for decades this “law” seemed to be true. Now the spiral of rising aircraft development costs has finally been conquered, thanks to new digital capabilities to handle the complexity that drives it.

西门子约翰·奥康纳(John O’ Connor)解释了航空航天与国防(A&D)领域的进步为什么往往会导致复杂性提高,以及西门子Xcelerator如何利用贯穿设计、规划、生产以及生产线机械设备整个生产流程的数字线程来控制这种复杂性。

John O’Connor of Siemens explains why advances in A&D tend to increase complexity, and how Siemens Xcelerator can bring that complexity under control with digital threads running from design through planning and production and right into machines on the production line.

John O'Connor
约翰·奥康纳, 西门子数字工业软件公司,A&D 战略部总监


Siemens Digital Industries’ approach offers Xcelerator, a portfolio of solutions tailored to A&D for specialized, systems-driven product development. Automated methods speed design processes, check for and help resolve design conflicts, and ensure that aerodynamic, electrical, mechanical, thermal and other requirements are met at every stage. 


Siemens Xcelerator also interfaces with automated manufacturing systems, giving an unprecedented level of control in the manufacturing process, ensuring that the final product conforms exactly to specified and traceable requirements.


Advances in aerospace technology will continue to introduce further complexity. But with Siemens Xcelerator greater complexity need not mean higher costs or longer development times.


Q: What is Augustine’s XVI Law and how is Siemens Xcelerator helping companies break it?

答:奥古斯丁“第十六定律”是美国前陆军副部长、洛克希德·马丁公司前首席执行官诺曼·奥古斯丁(Norman Augustine)提出的一个调侃性的看法。 他指出飞机会变得越来越贵,到2054年,美国国防部将只能买得起一架飞机。


在新型B-21轰炸机的设计生产中,这种情况终于得到了改变。诺斯罗普·格鲁曼公司成功以低于预算的花销提前完成了该项目。我们是否发现了奥古斯丁定律的漏洞?诺斯罗普·格鲁曼公司首席执行官凯西·瓦登(Kathy Warden)于近期表示,采用数字设计能力和先进生产技术是该项目成功的关键。


A: Augustine’s XVI “law” is a tongue-in-cheek observation by Norm Augustine, a former US Under Secretary of the Army and retired CEO of Lockheed Martin.  He noted that aircraft were getting so expensive that by 2054 the US DoD would only be able to buy one plane. 

Higher performance designs implicitly have higher levels of complexity as each generation brings more systems, more electronics, more software, more of almost everything into the product. This has led to exponentially increased costs. Although speaking humorously, Augustine was fundamentally correct in his assessment.

That has changed at last with the new B-21 bomber. Northrop Grumman is ahead of schedule and under budget on the project. Has a loophole been found in Augustine’s Law? Kathy Warden, CEO of Northrop Grumman, stated recently this success was enabled by using digital design capabilities and advanced manufacturing technologies.

A decade ago, Northrop Grumman embarked on a partnership with Siemens to fully digitalize its product development processes with the Siemens Xcelerator portfolio. Today they attribute being under budget to the digital tools they use – that’s how they are breaking Augustine’s Law.


Q: How does Siemens Xcelerator overcome the challenges of complexity in the design process? 







Digitalization strategies built on Siemens Xcelerator recommend a systems-oriented process using high-fidelity digital twins connected by digital threads, beginning in design and extending to production.
For example, if you look at something like electrical harness design, you have fundamentally different aspects: mechanical packaging, electrical logic, functional performance. Each changes in response to requirement updates or design evolutions. And when conflicts occur between these aspects, frequently they aren’t found until you actually build and install the harness. 

Siemens Xcelerator intersects the electrical and mechanical designs allowing you to fully understand the impact of every change. Let's say there's a requirement that certain electrical systems cannot be within a specified distance of hydraulic systems. Siemens Xcelerator automatically checks for violations and highlights them, avoiding costly changes later in the development process.

More electronics in aircraft means more heat to dissipate. Xcelerator models these effects simultaneously with other aspects early in the design process.  This ensures proper thermal management and resolves any potential problems before production.

Xcelerator also includes simulation and test capabilities. Whether mitigating noise and vibration concerns, validating flight controls, or otherwise bridging the virtual and physical worlds; Siemens can simulate it all before transition to production.

So, while you have growing complexities of interacting systems in an aircraft design – aerodynamic, electrical, mechanical, thermal – Siemens Xcelerator digital twins and digital threads let you manage the development process with confidence.


Q: How does Siemens Xcelerator help on the production side?




许多自动化复合材料铺层机使用西门子的硬件来追求高精度和高可靠性,这提高了生产效率,减少了机床的启动时间。Xcelerator的过程分析功能可以验证硬件性能,由此数字线程可以与驱动设计联系起来,并对产品和生产过程进行全面验证。 在西门子Xcelerator的帮助下实现生产过程的闭环能够极大地提高产品开发效率。


Siemens Digital Industries connects its product development, factory automation and motion control capabilities in unique and powerful ways. This enables digital threads to run all the way from product design to physical hardware fabricating parts and assemblies.
For example, composite design engineers define light and strong laminates. Each layer in the composite laminate corresponds to a set of manufacturing operations. For automated layup, Siemens Xcelerator drives manufacturing execution and machine tools based on the laminate definition.  As the machine deposits each layer, users monitor the build process and verify conformance to the design, which, via the digital thread, is traceable all the way back to the initial driving requirements.

Many automated composite layup machines utilize Siemens hardware for high precision and reliability. This improves production rate and reduces machine tool startup time. By verifying hardware performance with process analytics via Xcelerator, the digital thread can be linked back to the driving design, and a full verification of the product and process enabled.  Closing this loop with Siemens Xcelerator offers potential for huge improvements in product development efficiency.

This transparent integration extends across the factory and into the larger enterprise. Many parameters such as temperature, humidity, material batch quality, etc. must be monitored and controlled on the manufacturing floor.  Analyzing these parameters finds non-intuitive interactions which lead to unforeseen quality or production rate issues. Siemens Xcelerator helps understand those interactions and resolve any associated challenges. 


Q: Do clients need to take on the entire Siemens Xcelerator portfolio to get the benefit of this technology? 



Our approach allows customers to use any part they want. You can take a little nibble on one capability or the other as you move towards a higher state of digitalization. You’re probably going to move toward digital twins at first, but shortly after you need to think about integration across the development cycle. That will mean laying down foundations for digital threads running through the process. 

You can attempt digitalization by cobbling together a bunch of non-connected systems. Airplanes have been built for a long time using less integrated, legacy systems. But industry leaders today are intensely focused on strategic digitalization and building an integrated process from design to the manufacturing floor. And at the top end of that we have Northrop Grumman who are showing how successful that strategy can be. 


Q: How does this fit in with digitalization strategies that might be desired by an end customer?



One of the ways companies address customer management challenges that come with increased aircraft complexity is by applying a systems-driven approach in tandem with a customer. For example, customers use Xcelerator to flow requirements down to the supplier.  They are then mapped to functional definitions, product features, production plans, and final buyoff of product. Not only is Siemens Xcelerator supporting this flow from customer down to production floor, but it also closes the loop back to the ultimate customer, whether that is a commercial airframer, military service, or whomever. 

Siemens Xcelerator provides a digitalization approach for aerospace that the industry now aspires to. This offers the key to reduced cycle times, reduced risks, and breaking Augustine’s XVI Law.