The right design

Engineering Design and Automation
May 30, 1997

Under the pressures of increasing global competitiveness, manufacturing industries are having to strive continually to improve efficiency by raising product quality, while reducing design, development and manufacturing costs. There is also a need to shorten the product development cycle to keep up with fast-changing markets and to consider additional legislative and public pressures that impose constraints on products and the business methods companies use.

Against this backdrop much research has been undertaken to try to address the needs of industry in all aspects of product development. Over the past 20 years, design methodologies have been an active research area, with much research focusing on computational methods. Concurrent or simultaneous engineering strategies, where product and process design occurs in parallel, have also been both widely researched and adopted by industry. This has extended ever further into life-cycle engineering, where the whole life of the product is considered from the start. Computer-aided and analytical methods to assist during process design and manufacture have also been heavily researched. Methods for process planning, factory organisation, production management and automated manufacture have all had much attention.

To disseminate this continually growing body of knowledge, many journals have emerged. Most focus on specific areas of the product-development cycle or the application of specific techniques. Engineering Design and Automation takes a different approach, choosing to publish in one journal material relevant to the practitioners and researchers of both engineering design and industrial automation.

This is evident from the topics covered in the first three issues which included: a formally determined measure of the progression of a product during development; a knowledge-based approach to the selection of the best method or algorithm for job sequencing in a production environment; a review of expert systems and their applicability to diagnose faults and suggest repair strategies for production machinery; and an algorithm for scheduling gantry robots used to move parts in serial production lines.

One article presented a conceptual design methodology which used a technique, originally developed to model biological systems, to represent required design functionality. Generally, functional representations used in conceptual design are based on energy, matter and information movement and transformations and are quite rigorous. The authors suggest that a living-systems analogy has numerous advantages, one of which is that it requires less detailed information and understanding to produce these representations; which can then be used earlier in the design process, when the designer is still learning about the problem.

The content is interesting and of a very high standard. The broadness of the topics covered makes the journal useful for anyone interested in research and developments in engineering design and industrial automation. Although most suited to research libraries, some articles may interest a wider range of industrial engineers.

Guy Richardson is lecturer (design), University of Surrey.

Engineering Design and Automation

Editor - Hamid Parsaei
ISBN - ISSN 1075 9964
Publisher - Wiley
Price - $322.00 (institutions), $179.00 (individuals)
Pages - Six a year

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