A lattice-based approach for navigating design configuration spaces

MacKay, A.; Hau Hing, C.; Earl, C. F.; Behera, A. K.; de Pennington, A. and Hogg, D. C. (2019). A lattice-based approach for navigating design configuration spaces. Advanced Engineering Informatics, 42, article no. 100928.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aei.2019.100928


Design configurations, such as Bills of Materials (BoMs), are indispensable parts of any product development process and integral to the design descriptions stored in proprietary Computer Aided Design and Product Lifecycle Management systems. Engineers use BoMs and other design configurations as lenses to repurpose design descriptions for specific purposes. For this reason, multiple BoMs typically occur in any given product development process. For example, an engineering BoM may be used to define a configuration that best supports a design activity whereas a manufacturing BoM may be used to define the configuration of parts that best supports a manufacturing process. Current practice for the definition of BoMs involves the use of indented parts lists and dendograms that are prone to error because it is easy to create discrepancies across BoMs that, in essence, are defined through collections of part identifiers such as names and part numbers. Such errors have a significant detrimental effect on the performance of product development processes by creating the need for rework, adding costs and increasing time to market.

This paper introduces a design description capability that ensures consistency across BoMs for a given design. A boolean hypercube lattice is used to define a design configuration space that includes all possible configurations for a given design description. Valid operations within the space are governed by the mathematics of hypercube lattices. The design description capability is demonstrated through an early engineering design configuration software tool that offers significant benefits by ensuring consistency across the BoMs for a given design. The software uses and generates design descriptions that are exported from and imported to commercially available design systems through a standard (ISO 10303-214) interface format. In this way, potential for early impact on industry practice is high.

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