Trade Studies

Which one do you pick?

TS 1

Now Which One?

TS 2

Now Which Ones?

TS 3

What is a Trade Study?

  • Support the decision needs of the system engineering process
  • Evaluate alternatives (requirements, functions, configurations)
  • Integrate and balance all considerations (cost, performance, producibility, testibiity, compatibility, supportability, etc)
  • Develop and refine a system concept
  • Determines if additional analysis, synthesis, or trade-off studies are required to make a selection


The Name of the Game – Trade-Offs

TS 4


Value of Trade Study Process

  • Systemization of thought
  • Clarification of options, problem structure, and available trade-offs
  • Improved communication of ideas and professional judgement within the organization
  • Improved communication of rationale for action to others outside the organization
  • Confidence that all available information has been accounted for in a decision
  • Can be used at any phase of any project
    • Pre-Concept Exploration
    • Concept Exploration & Definition
    • Product Definition & Risk Reduction
    • Architecture & Development
    • Testing & Deployment


Why Do Trade Studies?

TS 5


When to Use a Trade Study – Anytime significant time or financial resources will need to be spent

  • Identify and execute trade-offs among requirements, design, schedule, and cost
  • Support decision needs of system engineering process
  • Level of study commensurate with cost, schedule, performance, and risk impact
  • Establish alternative performance and functional requirements
  • Resolve conflicts between requirements
  • Support functional analysis and allocation
  • Determine preferred set of requirements for function interface
  • Determine requirements for lower-level functions
  • Evaluate alternative architectures


Trade Study Guide Lines

  • Disciplined process
  • Fair and consistent evaluations
  • All affected aspects of program participate
  • Trade study leader to help focus and coordinate
  • Formal decision analysis method
  • Solve complex problems with more than one selection criterion
  • Provide documented decision rationale


Trade Study Process Key Elements

ts 6


Trade Study Process Flow

TS 7


Establishment of Effective Evaluation Criteria

  • Must reflect all technical requirements
  • Must reflect business objectives
  • Must be closely linked to Technical Performance Metrics (TPMs)
  • Effective screening/evaluation criteria must:
    • Differentiate meaningfully between alternatives without bias
    • Relate directly to the purpose of the trade study, i.e., they are requirements based
    • Be broadly based to ensure coverage of all decision factors
    • Be independent of each other to the greatest degree possible
    • Be universally understood by all trade study participants


Example of Evaluation Criteria

  • Life Cycle Cost
  • Supportability
  • Performance

TS 14


Sources of Design Trade Study Decision Criteria – Look at the entire lifecycle for potential decision criteria

  • Game rules
  • Team goals
  • Transportation
  • Robot budget
  • Design documents
  • Structural solution
  • Suppliers
  • Quality assurance
  • Branding and marketing
  • Software tools
  • Hardware

TS 8


Identification of Alternatives – The initial list of alternatives should be as expansive as possible

  • Reflect widest range of different solutions
  • Sources include:
    • Industry standards
    • Existing team solutions
    • 3 day build recommended
    • Other FRC teams
    • Industry
    • Other robotics competitions
    • Supplier recommended
    • Team brainstormed solutions

TS 9


Screen of Alternatives – Down select to between 3 and 10 viable options to evaluate

  • Eliminate alternatives which do not appear to meet requirements (go/no-go tests or killer trades)
  • Eliminate alternatives with low probability of successful implementation
  • Eliminate alternatives which are expected to exceed cost and schedule constraints


Setup Trade Study Matrix

TS 10



TS 11


Additional Resources