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Title: Flexibility or performance? : modularity and aero engine design
Author: Bell, T. A.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2008
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The design of aero engines is difficult, expensive and time-consuming. Consequently the industry typically follows a modular evolutionary design process to minimise the technological and business risks and maximise the return on invested design resources. This work aims to measure the effects of modularity and process-intrinsic constraints on performance and product flexibility. By varying the number of fixed interfaces and the number of constraints fixed across them, the trade-offs between performance improvement and flexibility loss can be quantified. The hypothesis is that removing constraints and changing interfaces will reduce the design time needed to obtain the same performance and enable larger performance gains. The results of the four studies indicate support for the hypothesis: removing constraints and sacrificing product flexibility results in higher performance in less time. The effect is increased as more constraints are softened but the observed behaviour is bi-modal with large performance gains costing significantly more. Although integration of the design process while maintaining the original fixed interfaces was also found to improve performance without any loss of architectural flexibility, the benefits of changing interface values were much larger.  As environmental impact brings performance improvements into the spotlight, transferring flexibility from the product to the design process could be part of the solution.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available