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A process-based approach to engineering design knowledge reuse

By David Baxter


Manufacturing enterprises are under increasing pressure to produce products of higher quality at lower cost in shorter time frames if they are to remain competitive. Engineering design support methods can help companies to achieve these goals. One such approach is design knowledge reuse. Industrial requirements have been identified as (i) the ability to rapidly create product variants; (ii) the ability to capture and re-use design knowledge, and; (iii) the capability to support the design effort across a distributed enterprise. The research aim is developed to assist the manufacturing enterprise in meeting the industrial requirements in the following way: a design solution to a new product requirement can be supported using an application package that is developed for a specific product domain. The application package consists of knowledge about previous products and projects, and procedures for using the knowledge to achieve a new solution. An initial investigation showed that design reuse in practice is lacking in specific areas: access to relevant and contextualised captured design knowledge; the relationship between design reuse and the product development process; integrated engineering and business objectives. Literature gaps were also identified. They include: (i) knowledge reuse for the whole product life cycle (particularly early design); (ii) integrated product and design process models; (iii) a ‘how-to’ element of the product design process. The aim of this research is to provide a method for reusing engineering design knowledge. The research method is ‘interview case study’, which supports a flexible approach and enables the research to develop according to the findings. The research was carried out with four companies, one of which took part in a detailed case study, providing case data to develop, populate and validate the proposed system. The outcome of the research is a proposal for a process based engineering design reuse method. The method consists of a combination of product, process and task knowledge to support the design process. Product knowledge is represented using a product ontology. Process knowledge is represented using the Design Roadmap method. Task knowledge is represented using a template developed to record the critical aspects of the task, including ‘how-to’ knowledge. Case studies are used to validate the proposed framework and the developed prototype system. The proposed design knowledge reuse framework is applicable to a range of industries in which mature, complex products are developed

Publisher: Cranfield University
Year: 2007
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Cranfield CERES

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