Efficient Development of Vehicle Configuration Rules
The aim of this PhD thesis is to describe an efficient and user-friendly development process for vehicle configuration rules. The development of vehicle configuration rules precedes the sales configuration, and is the process of authoring, evaluating and releasing configuration rules sets. The vehicle configuration rules are logic expressions using IF, AND, NOT, OR etc. An example of a vehicle configuration rule is IF(seat heating ventilation) THEN(comfort seats).
The research method used was analysing the development of vehicle configuration rules by focusing on 1) configuration information models, 2) configuration rules development process and 3) configuration rules visualisation methods. The result from the first research paper was a vehicle configuration information model, on which all the following research papers were subsequently based. The development process was modelled and analysed for evaluating how the time-efficiency could be improved with fewer iterations. The aim of a more efficient and user-friendly development process for vehicle configuration rules was then fulfilled by developing a new configuration rules visualisation method. This new matrix-based configuration rules visualisation method uses an inference engine. The inference engine draws conclusions based on computations of the vehicle configuration rules. The conclusions are then shown in the matrix-based vehicle configuration rules visualisation. The computations were previously done manually by the product developer, and hence some training and time were required to undertake the configuration rules analysis.
The usability and time-efficiency were evaluated with formative usability tests. These tests were conducted with product developers from the automotive industry. With the demonstrator, the product developers answered the test questions within minutes instead of hours/days/weeks.
The conclusion is that development processes for vehicle configuration rules could become more time-efficient and user-friendly by developing the configuration rule visualisation tools. More research is, however, needed on the development of vehicle configuration rules, in particular, research is needed on complexity management and product rationalisation.