Supporting communication in the supply chain with design rationale maps

Year: 2013
Editor: Udo Lindemann, Srinivasan V, Yong Se Kim, Sang Won Lee, John Clarkson, Gaetano Cascini
Author: Aurisicchio, Marco (1); Bracewell, Rob (2); Armstrong, Gareth (3)
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: Imperial College London, United Kingdom; 2: Cambridge University, United Kingdom; 3: Rolls-Royce plc, United Kingdom
Page(s): 335-344
ISBN: 978-1-904670-52-0
ISSN: 2220-4334


In modern engineering projects collaboration between organisations is increasingly common for the purpose of sharing expertise, technology, resources, risk and responsibilities. Design communication between collaborating organisations, which is central to the successful development of the design process, takes place over distributed environments, and a range of computer and communication technologies are available to support it. However, none of existing technologies aid engineers in the communication of the nuances and subtleties of engineering design work. This research, in collaboration with the engineering business of a large power system company, argues that for design communication to be effective, stakeholders have to have shared understanding and this is formed by interpreting design rationale. In the paper, this argument is used to explain the success of a software tool, known as DRed, to support the communication between engineers in the collaborating company and those from partner organisations. Case studies of practical application of the DRed tool to support communication with organisations in the supply chain of the partner company are presented and discussed.

Keywords: Design communication, shared understanding, design rationale, IBIS


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