Informing decision-makers in product design and manufacture
Although the advances in the use of computer systems in product design and manufacture have been significant in recent years, there are many issues as yet unresolved. The potential of information technology to provide improved information support to the decision-makers involved in the many aspects of product design and manufacture is immense, given that the rapid availability of appropriate information can vastly improve competitiveness through enhanced decision quality and reduced design and manufacture costs and lead times. However, the problems to be overcome to realize this potential are substantial. This paper focuses on the concept of data model driven design and manufacture, where the information relevant to the design and manufacture is stored separately from the applications that use it. This concept has many potential benefits in computer integrated manufacture, including data integrity, rapid flexibility, life cycle support and vendor independent systems. However, the concept relies on the definition of information models that can support the full range of activities involved in design and manufacture. The significant investment in worldwide research efforts to date has provided only very narrowly targeted solutions. This paper discusses the limitations of existing approaches and offers a view of how future systems can be constructed to deal with the range of types and views of information necessary as well as providing flexible systems that can be readily maintained with up-to-date information.
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