(Dr. Farrokh Mistree, advisor)
"Towards a Design Support System for Distributed Product Realization"
Imagine an environment where globally distributed designers work collaboratively on a product development task. In such an environment, engineers want to make best use of available resources distributed across the globe for reducing product development life cycle time. In order to make use of distributed resources along with systematic design methods, design support systems are required, that support engineers in at least two areas – provide distributed computing capabilities to utilize resources over the Internet and provide capabilities to manage and execute design processes in collaboration with other designers.
In this thesis, we present an Extensible Distributed Product Realization (X-DPR) framework that provides support for designers in reducing product realization time by facilitating the use of systematic design methods to manage design processes and by facilitating the use of distributed computing resources (or agents). The Decision Support Problem Technique is implemented in the X-DPR framework for modeling design processes hierarchically and collaboratively. The capabilities of the framework to model the design process and support for collaborative work are validated through the design of beverage merchandiser using Technology Identification Evaluation and Selection (TIES) method. Moving further along the design timeline, from modeling to execution of a design process, the framework is used for integrating heterogeneous software tools developed on different platforms and in different computer languages. The tasks defined in a design process are carried out remotely as web services. The remote invocation and execution of web services is done using XML based SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), which is a language and platform independent standard for achieving interoperability between various heterogeneous software systems. The distributed computing capabilities of the framework are validated using an example of design of vehicle body frame using Robust Concept Exploration Method (RCEM).
The outcome of this work is a framework for distributed product realization activities that helps in making effective use of distributed resources; automating repeated and monotonous tasks and process management thereby reducing product development time and enhancing productivity.