Large-scale engineering prototyping - Approaching complex engineering problems CERN-style

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: Gerstenberg, Achim; Steinert, Martin
Series: ICED
Institution: Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
Section: Design Processes, Design Organisation and Management
Page(s): 397-406


During the early concept creation phase of complex engineering problems with high degrees of uncertainty the design requirements are mostly unknown. Therefore, modules, usually used in manufacturing, and their boundaries cannot be predefined. During the fuzzy front end, requirements need to evolve according to discoveries. We suggest a wayfaring approach consisting of designing, building and testing of ideas where the learning of a test outcome leads to the next design. Instead of rigid boundaries, we suggest flexible envelopes, self-assigned areas of expertise and responsibility, which adapt to changing requirements and project needs. Unproblematic design changes within the envelope are directly implemented but changes that influence neighboring envelopes are negotiated by the developers through a justification and sense-making process. This bottom-up approach, inspired by an organizational structure at CERN, supports interlaced knowledge that enables developers to understand the various design ideas and to debate conflicting design choices already during the ideation phase. Furthermore, the project organization architecture can emerge evolutionary according to the actual needs.

Keywords: Complexity, Large-scale engineering systems, Uncertainty, Requirements, Fuzzy-Front-End


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