Product and process information interactions in assembly decision support systems
A characteristic of concurrent engineering is the intensive information interchange between areas that are involved through the product life cycle. Shared information structures to integrate different software applications have become necessary to support effectively the interchange of information. While much work has been done into the concepts of Product and Manufacturing Models, there is a need to make them able to support Assembly related activities. The research reported in this thesis explores and defines the structures of a Product Model and. a Manufacturing Model to support assembly related information. These information models support the product development process, especially during the early stages of the product life cycle. The structures defined for the models allow information interactions between them and with application software; these interactions are essential to support an effective concurrent environment. The Product Model is a source and repository of the product information, whilst the Manufacturing Model holds information about the manufacturing processes and resources of an enterprise. A combination of methods was proposed in order to define the structure for the information models. An experimental software system was created and used to show that the structure defined for the Product Model and the Manufacturing Model can support a range of assembly-related software applications through the concurrent development of the product, system and process, from conceptual design through to planning. The applications implemented in the experimental system were Design for Assembly and Assembly Process Planning. The real data used for the tests was obtained from an industrial collaborator who manufactures large electrical machines. This research contributes to the understanding of. the general structural requirements of the decision support systems based on information models, and to the integration of Design for Assembly and Assembly Process Planning.