Systems integration is the discipline and process of bringing different factors together to ensure that they function as a coherent and efficient whole.
It requires systems to be considered from all aspects – from technology to people, policies, regulation, business models and market mechanisms. It develops approaches, tools, frameworks, methods and skills that can support the full lifespan of an integrated system solution; and a systematic approach, able to deliver the benefits of managed risk, lower costs and faster implementation times.
Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary, whole life-cycle approach that delivers added value and reduces risk to acceptable levels. It constantly asks “are we solving the right problem?” and “are we solving it in the right way?”
It analyses alternative concepts looking for the optimum balance between opportunity and risk, considering the views of all relevant parties, and managing the inevitable conflict between them. It concurrently considers the system in question and all the systems that will be necessary to support it. Systems engineering can also be applied in ‘non-engineering’ situations, meaning a systematic approach to problem-solving that includes defining the issue, with ongoing assessment, and deciding upon an optimised solution. By taking into account the entire system, problems can be identified and solved early, and all parties are engaged contributors, bringing their own expertise and leading to successful outcomes.
The Energy Systems Catapult is utilising systems engineering and integration across a range of programmes. For example, the Future Power System Architecture project, which has adopted systems engineering techniques to develop a whole system perspective of the changes by which the power system can achieve the targets embodied in the Gone Green scenario.