Design guideline support for manufacturability
Matching the configuration of a product to available production capabilities during the design process directly affects product cost and hence product competitiveness. Existing approaches to improving manufacturability are helpful in the latter stages of the design process and usually involve corrective redesign. To avoid redesign, designers require appropriate guidance in the early stages of the design process. Guidelines, that is prescriptive recommendations for actions to address issues, are frequently used to provide this guidance. However, guideline sets are often poorly structured, incomplete, and the guidelines difficult to retrieve and apply. The overall aim of this research is to improve guidance to designers, particularly manufacturability guidance, early in the design process. Particular objectives of this research are to improve existing methods of guideline collection, storage, and retrieval. The research proceeded in the following pattern: - Case studies explored manufacturability problems in a small company. - Guideline support concepts were developed using a retrospective case study. - Collection concepts were developed with observational studies. - Storage approaches were developed using advanced composite guidelines. - A link-based retrieval technique was validated with a mechanical design protocol study. - Collection, storage, and retrieval methods were empirically tested. The results of this research were: - a technique to directly relate guidelines to the design process - a system of links relating guidelines to each other - an Action-Centred Guideline Approach - a preliminary software implementation of the approach - validation of the utility of the approach. The conclusions from this research are: - Guidance in the early stages of the design process can be improved through the use of structured guidelines. - The Action-Centred Guideline Approach improves the collection, storage, and retrieval of guidelines. - Empirical validation showed that guideline links are an effective means for improving guideline retrieval. - Further research is required in the areas of integrating the approach with other design tools, and in extending the link technique.