Understanding Complex Engineered Systems A Presentation for the Royal United Services Institute Given by Professor David Stupples 10 th September 2008 Today’s talk Definition of complexity Dimensions of complexity Examples of complex systems What were the outcomes Why these outcomes
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A Presentation for the Royal United Services Institute
Given by Professor David Stupples
10th September 2008
A complex system is a system formed out of many components whose behaviour is emergent, that is, the behaviour of the system cannot be simply inferred from the behaviour of its components. The amount of information necessary to describe the behaviour of such a system is a measure of its complexity. (Yaneer Bar-Yam)
It is acknowledged that most complex engineering projects
are ‘multi-dimensional’ in nature, and therefore require a systematic
approach to cope with the complexity involved.
Engineering complexity – diverting the Yangtze river during build, management of flooding in the lower Yangtze, long distance power distribution and line loss, building of locks causing minimum economic disruption.
Project complexity - largest hydro-electric generator (22 GWe by 2011), cost $25bn, project duration (20 years from design), management of over 10,000 contracts and over 1000 contractors, relocating 140,000 people, etc.
Operational complexity - loss of river flushing effect (pollution), lack of silt deposit (coastal erosion) and sinking coastal areas. loss of 13,000 farms, loss of forestation, change to rural environment
Engineering complexity included – fitting of the largest gas turbines to date, using Catia 3D design for the first time, use of a full glass cockpit for the first time, use of fully configurable avionics using fibre optics, first Boeing large commercial jet with fly-by-wire.
Technology complexity included – use of significant carbon fibre panels, revolutionary wing design and proof of fly-by-wire software.
Project complexity – design and build with more than 20 countries involved, more than 40 major contractors participating, tightly controlled budgets for cost and weight, multi company/country use of Catia, Boeing internal politics.
Operational complexity – all airline customers involved in the design.
Engineering complexity – building and commissioning a major terminal within a working airport adjacent to one of Europe’s busiest highways, relocating one of London’s major sewage processing plants and diverting waterways.
Technology complexity – developing and implementing one of the world’s most sophisticated baggage handing systems and passenger information systems.
Project complexity – developing and managing a sophisticated and efficient contracting strategy together with effective contractor management to contain cost and risk, and to maintain an exacting time schedule.
Operational complexity – transition from a project to operations with minimum disruption.
Engineering complexity – designing and implementing probably the world’s second largest and most complex computing system and transiting from the existing system whilst fully operational.
Technology complexity – designing and implementing new cutting-edge infrastructure to support the future needs of signals intelligence.
Project complexity – managing a PFI contract for the new building and numerous technical contracts to deliver the new facility on time and to budget.
Operational complexity – the transition from existing operations on one site to new operations on the new site without losing a single moment of operational capability, especially during 9/11, 7/7 (and subsequent terrorist activity), Afghanistan and Iraq military operations.
Wider System of Interest
System Of Interest
……importantly we can only contract to provide the
system of interest! But we must understand the WSOI
if we are to be successful.
“The amount of information necessary to describe the behaviour of such a system is a measure of its complexity”.
Requires a full system understanding to achieve this!
“It is the hierarchical interrelationships that gives rise to the complex emergent behaviour”.
Requires a full understanding of the interfaces involved to achieve this!