Defining and agreeing the product requirements is especially important when the design and manufacture of a system is part of an Extended Enterprise. To realize an all-inclusive concurrent engineering process, tools for the upstream design activities are needed. In practice, it is often difficult for the companies to have a shared understanding of what needs to be developed, and so specifications contain ambiguities in describing the product requirements. This paper clarifies the problem domain in the context of a complex product, designed and manufactured in a pan-national Extended Enterprise and serving a highly competitive market. The authors show how the challenge can be addressed through the application of ontology. A model of a requirements-management tool is proposed that will allow the various systems and associated levels of a product to be described and then shared through the supply chain. A prototype system is presented and illustrated through a case study from the automotive industry
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