I'm wanting to model a (proposed) manufacturing line, with specific emphasis on interaction with a traceability database. That is, various process engineers have already mapped the manufacturing process - I'm only interested in the various stations along the line that have to talk to the DB.
The intended audience is a mixture of project managers, engineers and IT people - the purpose is to identify:
- points at which the line interacts with the DB (perhaps going so far as indicating the Store Procs called at each point, perhaps even which parameters are passed.)
- the communication source (PC/Handheld device/PLC)
- the communication medium (wireless/fibre/copper)
- control flow (if leak test fails, unit is diverted to repair station)
Basically, the model will be used as a focus different groups on outstanding tasks; for example, I'm interested in the DB and any front-end app needed, process engineers need to be thinking about the workflow and liaising with the PLC suppliers, the other IT guys need to make sure we have the hardware and comms in place.
Obviously I could just improvise in Visio, but I was wondering if there was a particular modelling technique that might particularly suit my needs or my audience. I'm thinking of a visual model with supporting documentation (as little as possible, as much as is necessary).
Clearly, I don't want something that will take me ages to (effectively) learn, nor one that will alienate non-technical members of the project team.
So far I've had brief looks at BPMN, EPC Diagrams, standard Flow Diagrams... and I've forgotten most of what I used to know about UML... And I'm not against picking and mixing... as long as it is quick, clear and effective.
In the end, I opted for a quasi-workflow/dataflow diagram. I mapped out the parts of the manufacturing process that interact with the traceability DB, and indicated in a significantly-simplified form, the data flows and DB activity. Alongside which, I have a supporting document which outlines each process, the data being transacted for each process (a 'data dictionary' of sorts) and details of hardware and connectivity required.
I can't decide whether is a product of genius or a crime against established software development practices, but I do think that is will hit the mark for this particular audience.