Aggregate process planning and manufacturing assessment for concurrent engineering
The introduction of concurrent engineering has led to a need to perform product development tasks with reduced information detail. Decisions taken during the early design stages will have the greatest influence on the cost of manufacture. The manufacturing requirements for alternative design options should therefore be considered at this time. Existing tools for product manufacture assessment are either too detailed, requiring the results of detailed design information, or too abstract, unable to consider small changes in design configuration. There is a need for an intermediate level of assessment which will make use of additional design detail where available, whilst allowing assessment of early designs. This thesis develops the concept of aggregate process planning as a methodology for supporting concurrent engineering. A methodology for performing aggregate process planning of early product designs is presented. Process and resources alternatives are identified for each feature of the component and production plans are generated from these options. Alternative production plans are assessed in terms of cost, quality and production time. A computer based system (CESS, Concurrent Engineering Support System) has been developed to implement the proposed methodology. The system employs object oriented modelling techniques to represent designs, manufacturing resources and process planning knowledge. A product model suitable for the representation of component designs at varying levels of detail is presented. An aggregate process planning functionality has been developed to allow the generation of sets of alternative plans for a component in a given factory. Manufacturing cost is calculated from the cost of processing, set-ups, transport, material and quality. Processing times are calculated using process specific methods which are based on standard cutting data. Process quality cost is estimated from a statistical analysis of historical SPC data stored for similar operations performed in the factory, where available. The aggregate process planning functionality has been tested with example component designs drawn from industry.