Management of Design Information in the Production System Design Process

Abstract: For manufacturing companies active on the global market, high-performance production systems that contribute to the growth and competitiveness of the company are essential. Among a wide range of industries it is increasingly acknowledged that superior production system capabilities are crucial for competitive success. However, the process of designing the production system has received little attention, ignoring its potential for gaining a competitive edge. Designing production systems in an effective and efficient manner is advantageous as it supports the possibility to achieve the best possible production system in a shorter time. One way to facilitate the design of the production system is an effective management of design information. Without managing design information effectively in the production system design process the consequences may be devastating including delays, difficulties in production ramp-up, costly rework, and productivity losses.The objective of the research presented in this thesis is to develop knowledge that will contribute to an effective management of design information when designing production systems. The empirical data collection rests on a multiple-case study method and a survey in which the primary data derive from two industrialization projects at a supplier in the automotive industry. Each industrialization project involved the design of a new production system.The findings revealed ten categories of design information to be used throughout the process of designing production systems. The identified design information categories are grouped in the following way: (1) design information that minimizes the risk of sub-optimization; (2) design information that ensures an alignment with the requirements placed by the external context; (3) design information that ensures an alignment with the requirements placed by the internal context, and (4) design information that facilitates advancements in the design work. In order to improve the management of the broad variety of design information required, a framework is developed. The framework confirms the necessity to consider the management of design information as a multidimensional construct consisting of the acquiring, sharing, and using of information. Further, the framework is based on six characteristics that influence the management of design information. These characteristics are information type, source of information, communication medium, formalization, information quality, and pragmatic information. Supported by the findings, guidelines for the management of design information are outlined to facilitate an effective and efficient design of the production system and thus contribute to better production systems. The guidelines are of value to those responsible for or involved in the design of production systems.