An essential component of systems engineering, particularly in the construction of hardware, are requirements. They act as the cornerstone of the design and development life cycle, giving engineers a simple and unambiguous road map to follow. The idea of requirements, their significance in systems engineering, and how they contribute to the system design process will all be covered in this blog post.
What are Requirements?
In the context of systems engineering, requirements are a means for quantifying the problem to be solved. They record and describe what needs to be designed and provide a measure for project success. A requirement is composed of three components: a description of a specific need, an explanation of why the need is appropriate, and a method to check whether the system satisfies the requirement.
Types of Requirements
Throughout the course of the project, we may impose a variety of requirements on a system. These include functional requirements, performance requirements, constraint requirements, environmental requirements, human factors, reliability, safety, and more. They cover every aspect of the design where specific needs must be met.
The Role of Requirements in Systems Engineering
The systems engineering process is extremely dependent on requirements. They aid in determining the essential duties that a system must carry out. The back and forth between the engineering team and the stakeholders is made easier by this procedure, which also aids in understanding the system’s requirements.
An Example of Requirements: The Toaster
To demonstrate the idea of needs, let’s use a straightforward example: a toaster. A functional requirement for the toaster might be that it should convert electrical energy into thermal energy. The ability of the toaster to transform up to 100 watts of electrical power into thermal power could be a performance requirement. A constraint requirement might be that the toaster’s mass should be less than five kilograms. These are three requirements that we claim the toaster must satisfy, and there are different ways to verify that the design will meet those requirements.
The Importance of Requirements
Requirements are important because they help us understand the system’s needs before constraining ourselves with a particular implementation. By developing various architectures, examining the connections between functions, and examining the connections between logical and physical components, they enable us to advance through the system design process.
Communication between the technical team and the stakeholders is facilitated by requirements as well. They help in identifying missing functions and ensuring that the interconnections between functions are consistent and complete.
Requirements are frequently combined and arranged into a hierarchy rather than existing as a single, independent item. Lower-level or child requirements refine the needs of the parent requirement. At the top level, we start with the key programmatic requirements which formalize the stakeholder needs. These are then flowed down to functional requirements and performance requirements at the system level, and we continue doing this until we have a full set of requirements for all subsystems, components, and parts.
Requirements are a crucial element of systems engineering. They support communication between the engineering team and the stakeholders, aid in the system’s design, and aid in understanding the demands of the system. By understanding and applying the principles of requirements, engineers can create more efficient, effective, and successful systems.