The research reported in this paper explored the feasibility of embedding multiple design structures into design definitions with a view of sharing design definitions across product life cycles. Two separate case studies using (a) lattice theory and (b) a qualitative data analysis (QDA) software tool were used to illustrate the benefits of embedding. In the first case study, of a robotic arm assembly, lattices in the form of partially ordered sets are used to embed multiple design structures into a given design definition. A software prototype has been built that allows a design bill of materials (BoM) to be extracted from a STEP AP214 file and translated into a lattice that is visualized as a Hasse diagram. This lattice is a sub-lattice of a complete lattice that includes all possible BoM structures for the given collection of component parts in the assembly. New BoM design structures can be defined by selecting the required nodes in the complete lattice and alternative product definitions are then exported as new STEP files. The second case study introduces a collision avoidance robot with associated design structures. It is used to illustrate management of design information using a current technique, design structure matrix (DSM), and compared with how embedding using QDA has the potential to support the establishment of relationships between design structures. Results from these case studies demonstrate that it is feasible to use lattice theory as an underlying formalism and QDA as a means for sharing design definitions.
Behera, A. K., McKay, A., Earl, C. F., Chau, H. H., Robinson, M. A., de Pennington, A., & Hogg, D. C. (2019). Sharing design definitions across product life cycles. Research in Engineering Design. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00163-018-00306-0