Planning Design Automation Systems - Criteria and Guidelines
Design automation can be a powerful tool in the continuous endeavour to cut lead times, workloads, and, ultimately, costs in order to become more competitive in an increasingly globalised market. Identifying a need for design automation is, consequently, not difficult. What becomes a lot more difficult is identifying the actual need, i.e. the type, scope, and format of the system implementation, as well as the actual design tasks and activities to be automated.
There is currently a need for structured and systematic approaches for the realisation and implementation of design automation systems. This research work is aimed at identifying such approaches, methods, and aids. It also addresses the importance of identifying the exact tasks that are to be automated. This has to be done in order to find the tools and implementations that are best suited for solving the tasks, something that is especially important for companies whose resources and economy might not allow them to invest in a system with functionality that vastly exceeds their actual needs.
In this work, the design process is discussed from an automation perspective. Following this is a presentation of a framework of design automation. This framework has the purpose of serving as a common base for discussions about design automation as well as support in the setting up of initial system specifications. This is followed by the introduction of a set of criteria of design system characteristics, to be used for planning for design automation. These criteria, and descriptions of their use for system implementation and evaluation, constitute the main results of this work. The contribution of the set of criteria is a systematic approach to identifying design automation needs and setting up final system specifications. It provides implementers with general questions to answer about potential, need, scope, and format of system implementations. Further, it leads to weighing desired system characteristics in order to find the right balance between system complexity and functionality. Finally, some realisation and implementation issues are addressed. The set of criteria is complemented by guidelines for system implementation supporting some of the criteria.
A design automation system based on the presented criteria and design automation framework is also presented. This system is evaluated by its users who give their views of systems performance related to the criterias level of fulfilment.
The main conclusion of this work is that the set of criteria is a powerful tool for planning and evaluating design automation systems. Together with the presented framework, they also provide a structured and systematic approach to identifying the actual needs of design automation and setting up system specifications.