The pulleys employed in automotive accessory drive systems very often consist of a two piece assembly; a multitude of fastening techniques are used in completing the assembly. There are numerous assembly methods and a variety of distinct pulley configurations dictated by the various automobile manufacturers in accordance with individual accessory drive needs. An expert system is being developed to evaluate the merit of multiple assembly alternatives for a specific pulley application. The expert system provides a consistent evaluation tool for assembly alternatives, balancing the influence of product cost, strength and quality considerations. The knowledge-based system is implemented in an expert system shell called AGNESS (A Generalized Network-based Expert System Shell). The expert system judges the acceptability of various pulley assembly techniques, assigning a high “merit value” to the better designs and proportionately lower values to less desirable designs. Expert-defined inference methods allow this expert system to reason in a manner similar to the way a human designer would reason.