Change Propagation in Complex Design: Predicting detailed change cases with multi-levelled product models

Year: 2007
Author: Ariyo, Owolabi O.
Supervisor: Clarkson, P. John
Institution: University of Cambridge
Page(s): 274


Engineering changes to products are an essential part of design activities. Still, there are occasions where even small changes can lead to changes to other parts that are expected to remain relatively unchanged. The implications of change propagation within a product can be very severe, sometimes causing significant delays in schedules, as well as driving up development costs. An appreciation of the potential effects of change is immensely important in meeting time and cost targets when developing products. This thesis describes an investigation into the use of hierarchical structured product descriptions for engineering change risk assessments. It is based on a nonhierarchical risk estimation technique developed at the Engineering Design Centre (EDC), University of Cambridge. Such a multi‐levelled product model enables assessment of the effects of change at different levels of granularity. The development of the hierarchical structured change prediction method presented a number of challenges, mainly related to risk computation and product decomposition. In addition to the descriptions of how these challenges were addressed, this thesis describes a case‐by‐case approach for investigating how changes might propagate within a product. A case study revealed that these newly developed techniques make it possible to predict the effects of change beyond levels attainable with methods previously reported in design literature.

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