System Engineering Consulting

Software &
Interface Description

An important part of requirement specifications is the description of the interfaces to other systems. An interface connects systems that have different physical, electrical and mechanical characteristics. The definition or specification of an interface contains common characteristics. This can also include a protocol for communication and the exchange of data. Interfaces can be found wherever different systems need to be connected. The interfaces form the transition from one system into another system. This transition can be used for communication, data exchange, control and documentation. The interface between man and machine or software  plays a vital role in the efficiency of the devices. Intuitive operability is just as important here as safety mechanisms that protect against faulty operation. 
Interfaces are characterised in that

  • a task exists, the solution of which presupposes departmental or cross-departmental collaboration between equal ranking partners who are neither  superordinate nor subordinate,  
  • no co-ordination takes place,
  • there is no co-ordination due to autonomous status in terms of the task to be solved.

Interfaces are always associated with co-ordination effort. They lead to a loss of time and information, in particular if the co-operation between the parties is not properly coordinated.

What problems can occur at interfaces?

Due to interface separation in the mutual recognition and pursuit of goals

  • Disharmony in the coordination leads to failures
  • Interfaces are often  an expression of different subcultures (e.g. language, planning horizons, external companies)
  • Conflicts; typical: Departmental, motive, resource and distribution conflicts
  • Communication breakdown
  • Areas of responsibility not clearly defined
  • Inadequate information flow
  • Complexity of problems

Objectives of definition of the interface description

  • Coordination and definition of objectives
  • Avoidance of incomplete stand-alone solutions
  • Conflict management
  • Perform "translator function"

The explicit naming of the interfaces is of particular importance because different tasks are interrelated.
These places, where work passes “from one hand to the next”, are particularly sensitive and error-prone.

DIt is, therefore, helpful for these handovers of work to determine performance and quality criteria, so it is not necessary to compensate for errors and deficiencies that have occurred in the preceding process step. Thus, the description of the interface provides not only for process safety and transparency, but also saves on resources, alteration work and the related costs. Each dependency between two systems should be explicitly formulated and documented. A system should always be dependent on a clearly defined interface of the other module and not on an implementation of the interface. It should be possible to consider the interface of a module as separate from the implementation.

SEEFRIED Verfahrenstechnik GmbH can assist you in preparing your requirement specifications and the interfaces to the “upstream” or superordinate systems, such as energy, media in the field of agitation or homogenisation technology, as well as for the MES and ERP system definition.