Reuse of manufacturing experience in product and process definitions
Abstract: Today's manufacturing industry faces hard competition, both in the form of competitor's low cost outsourcing and to reduce labour cost. Increased public consciousness for environmental pollution and stricter government legislation are also drivers for a more efficient product development process and companies competing on the global market must continue to improve there methods and tools to gain an advantage. The company's intellectual properties and the ability to capitalize on experience from earlier projects becomes a key factor when competing on the global market. This thesis work explores the mechanisms for knowledge reuse and suggests methods and tools involved in the product development process to improve the use of manufacturing experience in order to prevent manufacturing flaws to reoccur in new product development programs. The research is carried out in a project funded by the Swedish research agency VINNOVA together with the industry, through the MERA program. The project aims to improve the Digitally Linked Process and has a focus on Experience reuse. An initial research question was formulated to address the problem and guide the research towards a better understanding; "How can experience from manufacturing processes be tied and reused to impact the definition of governing product and process definition?" A study was set up to investigate the current practices and to aid the research in formulating an approach to improve methods and tools for Reuse of Manufacturing Experience (RoME). The study was conducted at two companies, one in the aerospace industry and one in the automobile industry. The "How" and "Why" questions supported a case study approach The study provided a better understanding of the problem and pointed at a number of opportunities to increase the use of manufacturing experience. One of the findings pointed out in the survey was the lack of a working process for preventing recurrence of a bad design in manufacturing. Furthermore, the study revealed a potential improvement in the use of capability data and problem reports that are captured and stored in databases, today more or less solely used in manufacturing. A new research question was formulized as the improvement of the RoME process where set in focus; "How can the process of experience reuse from manufacturing phases be improved to better impact earlier phases in product development?" The current process for finding and accessing process capability data from a Design Engineering perspective were investigated and described as well as the process to retrieve problem report notifications regarding specific design features of a component. The process where found to be both time consuming and tedious, and as a result of that, seldom used by design engineers. Key enablers having a significant impact on the RoME process where identified. The ability to find and access experience captured in the manufacturing phase. The ability to provide data in a context familiar for the receiver in order to facilitate the learning process. Animproved process for reuse of manufacturing experience is proposed and includes methods and techniques to target system integration for search and access. A service oriented product life cycle management (PLM) architecture is proposed as a mean to address the topic of finding and accessing manufacturing data. The standard for PLM Services 2.0 provided by the Object Management Group (OMG) and the increased maturity of web service technology provide the possibility to integrate knowledge rich engineering application in a dispersed heterogeneous system environment. The ability to provide data in a context that is familiar to the receiver is addressed by developing a web based graphical user interface (GUI). The web based GUI presents the manufacturing data in a design context where manufacturing process capability data and problem report notifications are presented in a component view. This supports the design engineer when searching for relevant experience from earlier projects by associating the process capability data and problem reports to a specific design feature, e.g. a flange, and how it relate to the manufacturing process. A web based application is developed to demonstrate the concept. The application presents the product assembly (bill of material) together with the manufacturing process activities and corresponding process capability data in the same view, providing a contextual environment that is tailored for the receiver.
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