The Development and Implementation of a Comprehensive Concurrent Engineering Method: Theory and Application 912210
In recent times, Concurrent Engineering (CE) has been proposed in order to overcome the costly and time-consuming shortcomings of long-standing product development methods. Simultaneous engineering teams are typically formed to join the product designer to provide analysis and reasoning about potential manufacturing, assembly, and performance problems and costs that may result if the current design embodiment is further developed. The designer must take into account these “predictions” and suggestions before finalizing the design, since the final design specifications do determine most of product development costs and results. However, both the theory and implementation of these CE methods must be re-formulated to eliminate their shortcomings and to maximize productivity. We propose that a complete, successful CE development method must be based on 3 fundamental concepts. These concepts lay the foundation for an ideal product development method. Briefly, this ideal method removes the “guess-work” made by the simultaneous engineering team in predicting future development costs and results, and in generating design improvements; it establishes explicit cause-effect links from design specifications through ensuing development costs and results; and it establishes a standard forum for communication between development stage experts. This ideal method actually is not feasible to implement, but by constructing a computer network to provide thorough engineering analysis and procedures, such as manufacturing cost estimating and process verification, we propose a comprehensive development method, which is centered at the design stage, called Virtual Concurrent Engineering (VCE). Using this method and implementation network, a product designer can develop his initial design, through automated design evaluation and computer-generated design modifications, so that it is optimized in development cost, reliability, and time, and product performance and quality, all before any real commitments are made in manufacturing, assembly, prototyping, etc. We discuss an application of this development method (VCE) to the design and manufacture of stampings, and conclude by claiming that both man and machine will be needed to carry-out optimal, but realistic, product development.