Knowledge-based Engineering in Product Development Processes - Process, IT and Knowledge Management perspectives
Doctoral thesis, 2011
Product development as a field of practice and research has significantly changed due to the general trends of globalization changing the enterprise landscapes in which products are realized. The access to partners and suppliers with high technological specialization has also led to an increased specialization of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Furthermore, the products are becoming increasingly complex with a high functional and technological content and many variants. Combined with shorter lifecycles which require reuse of technologies and solutions, this has resulted in an overall increased knowledge intensity which necessitates a more explicit approach towards knowledge and knowledge management in product development.
In parallel, methods and IT tools for managing knowledge have been developed and are more accessible and usable today. One such approach is knowledge-based engineering (KBE), a term that was coined in the mid-1980s as a label for applications which automate the design of rule-driven geometries. In this thesis the term KBE embraces the capture and application of engineering knowledge to automate engineering tasks, regardless of domain of application, and the thesis aims at contributing to a wider utilization of KBE in product development (PD). The thesis focuses on two perspectives of KBE; as a process improvement IT method and as a knowledge management (KM) method. In the first perspective, the lack of explicit regard for the constraints of the product lifecycle management (PLM) architecture, which governs the interaction of processes and IT in PD, has been identified to negatively affect the utilization of KBE in PD processes. In the second perspective, KM theories and models can complement existing methods for identifying potential for KBE applications.
Regarding the first perspective, it is concluded that explicit regard for the PLM architecture decreases the need to develop and maintain software code related to hard coded redundant data and functions in the KBE application. The concept of service oriented architecture (SOA) has been found to enable an the explicit regard for the PLM architecture.. Regarding the second perspective, it is concluded that potential for KBE applications is indicated by: 1.) application of certain types of knowledge in PD processes 2.) high maturity and formalization of the applied knowledge 3.) a codification strategy for KM and 4.) an agreement and transparency regarding how the knowledge is applied, captured and transferred.
It is also concluded that the formulation of explicit KM strategies in PD should be guided by knowledge application and its relation to strategic objectives focusing on types of knowledge, their role in the PD process and the methods and tools for their application. These, in turn, affect the methods and tools deployed for knowledge capture in order for it to integrate with the processes of knowledge origin. Finally, roles and processes for knowledge transfer have to be transparent to assure the motivation of individuals to engage in the KM strategy.
product lifecycle management
service oriented architecture