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Integrated engineering environment for large complex products

Coates, G. and Ritchey, I. and Duffy, A.H.B. and Hills, W. and Whitfield, R.I. (2002) Integrated engineering environment for large complex products. Concurrent Engineering: Research and Applications, 8 (3). pp. 171-182. ISSN 1063-293X

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Abstract

An introduction is given to the Engineering Design Centre at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, along with a brief explanation of the main focus towards large made-to-order products. Three key areas of research at the Centre, which have evolved as a result of collaboration with industrial partners from various sectors of industry, are identified as (1) decision support and optimisation, (2) design for lifecycle, and (3) design integration and co-ordination. A summary of the unique features of large made-to-order products is then presented, which includes the need for integration and co-ordination technologies. Thus, an overview of the existing integration and co-ordination technologies is presented followed by a brief explanation of research in these areas at the Engineering Design Centre. A more detailed description is then presented regarding the co-ordination aspect of research being conducted at the Engineering Design Centre, in collaboration with the CAD Centre at the University of Strathclyde. Concurrent Engineering is acknowledged as a strategy for improving the design process, however design coordination is viewed as a principal requirement for its successful implementation. That is, design co-ordination is proposed as being the key to a mechanism that is able to maximise and realise any potential opportunity of concurrency. Thus, an agentoriented approach to co-ordination is presented, which incorporates various types of agents responsible for managing their respective activities. The co-ordinated approach, which is implemented within the Design Co-ordination System, includes features such as resource management and monitoring, dynamic scheduling, activity direction, task enactment, and information management. An application of the Design Co-ordination System, in conjunction with a robust concept exploration tool, shows that the computational design analysis involved in evaluating many design concepts can be performed more efficiently through a co-ordinated approach.