A product-configuration-driven system for assembly planning within a product data management environment
This paper describes the results of a project sponsored by the Engineering and Physics Science Research Council (EPSRC) in collaboration with leading engineering and consultant companies, which is aimed at developing new methodologies for Computer-Aided Assembly Process Planning (CAAPP). The aims of this project were to investigate contemporary industrial requirements for CAAPP, study the feasibility of integrating CAAPP with data management tools via a product model and review current state-of-the-art systems and methodologies. The research has been focused on finding solutions to some of the limiting factors that have kept CAAPP an immature technology for many years. The deliverable of the research project is a novel assembly planning system, which has been developed in a Product Data Management (PDM) environment. The system takes the product configuration model derived from the PDM system as the input. This input is analysed by the system using intensive built-in knowledge to yield detailed assembly plans. The system achieves integration of CAAPP functionality with a PDM tool, providing a data control framework and a high-level data structure to form the basis of planning. The prototype system has an automatic planning module and an interactive planning sub-system that complements it. The interactive planning module also allows the user to capture the assembly knowledge and model it as a flowchart in the system. As fully automatic planning is a new field, comparison of automatically generated results with those of the semiautomatic system help to evaluate the system and build up user confidence.