Using data- and network science to reveal iterations and phase-transitions in the design process

DS 87-2 Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 17) Vol 2: Design Processes, Design Organisation and Management, Vancouver, Canada, 21-25.08.2017

Year: 2017
Editor: Anja Maier, Stanko Škec, Harrison Kim, Michael Kokkolaras, Josef Oehmen, Georges Fadel, Filippo Salustri, Mike Van der Loos
Author: Piccolo, Sebastiano; Lehmann, Sune; Maier, Anja
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: Technical University of Denmark, DTU Management Engineering, Denmark; 2: Technical University of Denmark, DTU Compute, Denmark
Section: Design Processes, Design Organisation and Management
Page(s): 011-020
ISBN: 978-1-904670-90-2
ISSN: 2220-4342


Understanding the role of iterations is a prevalent topic in both design research and design practice. Furthermore, the increasing amount of data produced and stored by companies leaves traces and enables the application of data science to learn from past design processes. In this article, we analyse a document-log to show the temporal evolution of a real design process of a power plant by using exploratory data analysis and network analysis. We show how the iterative nature of the design process is reflected in archival data and how one might re-construct the design process, involving iterations between many parties, including the client, external consultants, suppliers, and designers. We also show how people use different representations during the design process and how this is associated with a design phase-transition in the process. Finally, we relate our findings with the literature on iterations and discuss implications for research and practice with application to project management and process modelling.

Keywords: Design process, Visualisation, Complexity, Iterations, Network science

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