Collaborative Multidisciplinary Design Optimization for Conceptual Design of Complex Products

Abstract: MULTIDESCIPLINARY design optimization (MDO) has developed in theory andpractice during the last three decades with the aim of optimizing complexproducts as well as cutting costs and product development time. Despite thisdevelopment, the implementation of such a method in industry is still a challenge andmany complex products suffer time and cost overruns.Employing higher fidelity models (HFMs) in conceptual design, one of the early and most important phases in the design process, can play an important role in increasing the knowledge base regarding the concept under evaluation. However, design space in the presence of HFMs could significantly be expanded. MDO has proven to be an important tool for searching the design space and finding optimal solutions. This leads to a reduction in the number of design iterations later in the design process, with wiser and more robust decisions made early in the design process to rely on.In complex products, different systems from a multitude of engineering disciplines have to work tightly together. This stresses the importance of evolving various domain experts in the design process to improve the design from diverse engineering perspectives. Involving more engineers in the design process early on raises the challenges of collaboration, known to be an important barrier to MDO implementation in industry. Another barrier is the unavailability and lack of MDO experts in industry; those who understand the MDO process and know the implementation tasks involved.In an endeavor to address the mentioned implementation challenges, a novel collaborative multidisciplinary design optimization (CMDO) framework is defined in order to be applied in the conceptual design phase. CMDO provides a platform where many engineers team up to increase the likelihood of more accurate decisions being taken early on. The structured way to define the engineering responsibilities and tasks involved in MDO helps to facilitate the implementation process.It will be further elaborated that educating active engineers with MDO knowledge is an expensive and time-consuming process for industries. Therefore, a guideline for CMDO implementation in conceptual design is proposed in this thesis that can be easily followed by design engineers with limited prior knowledge in MDO. The performance of the framework is evaluated in a number of case studies, including applications such as aircraft design and the design of a tidal water power plant, and by engineers in  industry and student groups in academia.

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