A simulation-assisted complexity metric for design optimization of integrated architecture aero-engine structures
Journal article, 2019
Traditional metrics for assessing system complexity are based on aspects such as number of and interaction among components. For functionally integrated structures, the application of such metrics can be difficult and/or limited due to the inseparability of the structure into components or sub-systems; a single monolithic structure satisfies all required functions. At the same time, complexity metrics are necessary for effective application of design optimization and systems engineering principles. Aero-engine static structures are typical examples of functionally integrated architecture. In this paper, we present a complexity metric for integrated architecture structures that can be included as an objective or constraint in design optimization problem formulations. The proposed metric is based on two existing metrics, one providing a system wide scheme for complexity calculations and the second, giving complexity for individual components. In order to account for its integrated architecture, different regions of the structure are considered. Interactions are estimated as load paths through the structure, identified by means of physical simulations. Complexity evaluations are demonstrated using two detail-designed aero-engine structures with similar functions but belonging to different engine designs. Despite the similarities, the structures differ in complexity. This enables quantitative comparison among different designs of integrated architecture structures based on physical arrangements and main functions. Moreover, the metric can be used to identify regions with most influence on complexity which in turn enables design improvements on those regions. Automated computation of the metric can result in rapid comparison and selection among a number of structure designs, and thus be used in optimization studies. Finally, a correlation of the metric with the development time or cost can be useful for future integrated architecture structure design optimization.