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Application of IDEF0, IDEF3 and UML methodologies in the creation of information models

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The importance of information models is widely recognised by the computer integrated manufacturing research community. However, improved methods are still needed to assist the developer in the definition of information model structures. Currently available methods and standards can only help in certain stages of the information modelling process. This paper explores the benefits of combining three methodologies in the definition of the structure of information models that support applications through the product life cycle. While all the methodologies that are currently used in information modelling have some advantages, they also have weaknesses. This paper shows howthe combined use of IDEF0, IDEF3 and UML methodologies can be used to advantage in the context of the Open Distributed Processing (ODP) standard ISO10746. The combination of these methods means that the weaknesses of each can be counteracted by the strengths of others. IDEF0 is commonly used, with some success, to model enterprise activities and information flows. However its ability to describe information is weak and it cannot model process flows. IDEF3 offers both a process flow capability that can be linked to IDEF0 and an ability to model information in object centred descriptions. The results of the application of these methodologies provide the required information for the top levels of the RM-ODP. Furthermore, both methodologies have been proved to be very good means of communication with the collaborating companies. The results obtained with the IDEF3 method provide key information for the creation of classes with attributes and operations that can then be used in the design of computational systems using UML. The resulting UML class diagrams show the relationships and inheritances that are the main input to the creation of object-oriented databases that hold the data of the information models. These combined methods have been used to model the information required through different stages of the product life cycle for the assembly of large electrical machines and have been shown to provide an improved definition of the relationships between the stages of information model definition.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Manufacturing Engineering, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leics., LE11 3TU, UK

Publication date: September 1, 2000

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