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Integrated Design: Units and Elements

Updated on December 14, 2012
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Unit 1. The Reasons For Integration In Design

Unit 2. The targets of integration in design

Unit 3. . Essential methods of integration in design

Unit 4. Mastering complexity in Integrated Design

Unit 5. Knowledge management for integration

Unit 6. Unit Collaborative Integrated Design

Unit 7. Selected aspects of integration

This introductory unit deals with the motivation for the paradigm of Integrated Design for innovative and competitive product development.

a. . Understanding Competitive Design

This element deals with the key importance of design for creating products that are competitive on increasingly global and fast-evolving markets. It teaches definitions of Competitive Design, and discusses key approaches to Competitive Design.

b. . Understanding design externalization and outsourcing

As products are becoming more and more complex, design tasks require globally distributed design teams of experts. Working in such networks of experts demands very special skills and competences. This element focuses on the reasons for the need of externalization and outsourcing of design tasks, and it gives an overview of the implications on the competence requirements for Integrated Design Engineers. The element analyses the reasons for and the key aspects of externalization and outsourcing.

c. . Understanding modern design environments

Modern design environments have to support the key aspects of Integrated Design, which are essentially centered on the support of the collaboration and knowledge sharing of experts from different domains during the design tasks. This element gives an overview of those key aspects, and uses examples of cutting-edge environments to show their realization.

d. Understanding innovation by design

This element focuses on the importance of design to innovate products. Due to the fact that design is a key element of the earliest phases of the product development process, it has a crucial influence on the innovative character of the final product. Integrated Designers have to be able to collect and implement requirements of all the stakeholders into the product. Apart from the definition of Product Innovation, the element analyses the role of design in product innovation.

e. Understanding product and system complexity

This element deals with the notion of complexity in the context of modern products. It highlights different definitions of complexity, as well as means to measure complexity.

This unit deals with the major entities to be integrated by Integrated Design approaches. These signify at the same time the key characteristics of Integrated Design compared to traditional approaches. As such, the unit gives the motivation for integration in design, and attempts to present an overview of the key issues that the complete qualification deals with.

a. . Integrating the whole life-cycle of a product or a system

Knowledge about the life-cycle of a product is the key to identifying and understanding the requirements a product is confronted with throughout its entire life from specification over usage to disposal and recycling. Even if specific products run through their specific life-cycles, there are certain phases and characteristics that are common to those life-cycles. This unit deals with those key elements of the product life-cycles with the target to establish the basis for understanding the variety and the complexity of requirements on integration activities and integration thinking in Integrated Design activities.

b. Integrating the different stakeholders of the life-cycle

The probably most important element of every product lifecycle is its stakeholders. Stakeholders are people who are actively or passively, directly or indirectly involved in one or several phases of the whole product life-cycle, from specification to disposal and recycling. Evidently, all these people come from several different domains such as research, engineering, business, marketing, and politics. Similarly they can assume different roles such as developers, producers, users, and vendors. The key issue about these people is that they all impose specific requirements on the product in terms of their expectations, preferences, and constraints, which Integrated Designers should all be aware of. The target of this unit is thus to identify the most typical and important stakeholders of the product life-cycle, their potential roles, functions and influences with respect to the product. The goal for the Integrated Design Engineer is to be able to identify as completely as possible all potential sources of requirements to the product.

c. Integrating the different cultures of the stakeholders

Involving people with different competences, expertise, and roles can be very challenging. In typical product design organizations, designers are supposed to procure themselves with key information from those stakeholders. This requires competences in communication and in particular knowledge about the different cultures of stakeholders. This element points out this need and gives an overview of relevant key issues.

Knowledge about the reasons for the necessity of the application of Integrated Design, as well as about the essential entities to be integrated is the prerequisite to understand different approaches to the holistic design process. This unit deals with cutting-edge methods that have significant importance in Integrated Design, and which have been proven both in scientific research and in industrial environments. The target of this type of training is that students understand these methods to the extent that they are themselves able to apply them to their own design tasks, as well as to select the best means to improve their knowledge and skills about them in a more specific and focused type of training and/or study.

a. Concurrent engineering

The concurrent engineering approach is still a relatively new design management system. It has had the opportunity to mature in recent years to become a well-defined systems methodology towards optimizing engineering design cycles. Because of this, concurrent engineering has garnered much attention from industry and has been implemented in a multitude of companies, organizations and universities. The basic premise for concurrent engineering revolves around two concepts. The first is the idea that all elements of a product's life-cycle, from functionality, production, assembly, testability, maintenance issues, environmental impact and finally disposal and recycling, should be taken into careful consideration in the early design phases. The second concept is that the preceding design activities should all be occurring at the same time, or concurrently. The overall goal being that the concurrent nature of these processes significantly increases productivity and product quality, aspects that are obviously important in today's fast-paced market. This philosophy is the key to the success of concurrent engineering because it allows for errors and redesigns to be discovered early in the design process when the project is still in a more abstract and possibly digital realm. By locating and fixing these issues early, the design team can avoid what often become costly errors as the project moves to more complicated computational models and eventually into the physical realm. This element deals with concepts and examples of Concurrent Engineering, as well as with tools supporting this approach.

b. Just-Need approach

The Just-Need approach basically signifies that each stakeholder involved in the Integrated Design process is supposed to impose a design constraint on the product or system as soon as the stakeholder can prove that constraint. This assures that the space of potential design solutions is restricted step by step by only those constraints which can be verified and validated during and after the design process. This element deals with concepts and examples about this approach, as well as with tools that help apply it.

c. Product modeling

Product modeling is increasingly used to tackle the complexity of modern products and systems. It aims at providing a complete representation of the product or the system in the form of modules and their relationships. This element looks at different modern approaches to product modeling, as well as modeling tools and languages.

This unit focuses on the key role that design has in systems engineering with a focus on systems that should be turned into competitive products that are successful on the market. Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary field of engineering that focuses on how complex engineering projects should be designed and managed. Issues such as logistics, the coordination of different teams, and automatic control of machinery become more difficult when dealing with large, complex projects. Systems engineering deals with work-processes and tools to handle such projects, and it overlaps with both technical and human-centered disciplines such as control engineering and project management. Systems engineering focuses on defining customer needs and required functionality early in the development cycle, documenting requirements, proceeding with design synthesis and system validation while considering the complete problem: the system life-cycle. Depending on their application, although there are several models that are used in the industry, all of them aim to identify the relation between the various stages mentioned above and incorporate feedback. Examples of such models include the Waterfall model and the VEE model. System development often requires the contribution from diverse technical disciplines. By providing a systemic (holistic) view of the development effort, systems engineering helps meld all the technical contributors into a unified team effort, forming a structured development process that proceeds from concept to production to operation and, in some cases, to termination and disposal.

a. Integration as a means to master complexity

Integration is a key factor of systems engineering. This element deals with the collaboration of experts from different fields to master complexity, as well as with the representation of different product views as a means to help experts understand and collaborate on the product.

b. Functional re-use aware design principles

One of the major questions in product and systems engineering is how to create a proven-in-use stable architecture which can be re-used and adapted for many customers on the market. This requires more than re-using one component; it requires an architectural paradigm. Generic and adaptable product architectures are created in designs where interfaces are fixed and components exchangeable and adaptable by parameter settings. The result is a stable architecture with certified components which can be adapted to different customer specific functions by parameter settings. In this element the student learns about the according architectural design strategies.

c. Requirements engineering in Integrated Design

Systematic requirements analysis is also known as requirements engineering. It is sometimes referred to loosely by names such as requirements gathering, requirements capture, or requirements specification. The term requirements analysis can also be applied specifically to the analysis proper, as opposed to elicitation or documentation of the requirements, for instance. Requirement engineering is a sub-discipline of systems engineering and software engineering that is concerned with determining the goals, functions, and constraints of products and systems. In some life-cycle models, the requirements engineering process begins with a feasibility-study activity, which leads to a feasibility report. If the feasibility study suggests that the product should be developed, then requirement analysis can begin. If requirement analysis precedes feasibility studies, which may foster outside the box thinking, then feasibility should be determined before requirements are finalized. Design engineers are an integral part of the requirements engineering process. Furthermore, quality standards emphasize the traceability of requirements and their mapping against acceptance criteria and tests. In most engineering processes even the lowest quality levels can no longer be achieved without implementing requirements tracing systems. Modern quality standards like ISO 15504 typically define several layers of requirements, such as customer requirements, system requirements (mapped onto system elements), component requirements (housing, hydraulic system, oil pump, etc.), and software requirements. Among these types, they also distinguish between component and system requirements. These types of requirements are mapped onto the different test levels, a step which provides the basis for the validation of the conceived product or system. This element teaches requirements management principles inspired by Software Engineering, which is the discipline where systematic requirements management has been developed and applied over years at an unequalled speed.

d. Design Thinking for innovation

Design Thinking is a methodology that drives the full spectrum of innovation activities with a human-centered design ethos. A core issue intimately linked to this methodology is that innovation is powered by a thorough understanding, through direct observation, of what people want and need in their lives and what they like or dislike about the way particular products are made, packaged, marketed, sold, used, and supported. Design Thinking is thus essentially about involving design engineers into the life-cycle of a product or a system, even in the case of a completely new development. Design Thinking has been coined by the leading authority in design research, the Stanford University in CA, USA, and it has been adopted by influential design companies all over the world. This element conveys the elements of this essential method, which aims at maximizing the creativity of designers while making them respect consistently the requirements and constraints imposed by the life-cycle the product or system is supposed to run through.

Engineering design is a knowledge-based, knowledge-intensive intellectual activity. As pointed out above, designers and others involved in the design of any product or process bring to bear extensive technical knowledge, product knowledge, manufacturing process knowledge, design process knowledge, memories of previous projects, etc. Much of this knowledge is presently ad hoc and heuristic, residing implicitly with individuals or within organizations. It is thus hardly accessible to others in the same organization, and still much less to other organizations. The handbooks, textbooks, catalogues, trade journals, research journals, and company guidelines in which much of this knowledge has been recorded are generally useful only if close at hand (some say within reach'') and if they deal specifically with the designer's current problem. As a database, this collection is extremely inefficient in terms of accessibility. A design knowledge base more generally and completely accessible to all engineering designers would be tremendously powerful. For this vision to be realized, existing knowledge must be captured, organized and generalized. Once this is done, the knowledge can be made available to designers via CAD systems or computer networks in a form which is adequate to support design engineers in a maximum of tasks efficiently. Every phase of this process is very complex, as they all deal with originally implicit knowledge. As both the knowledge providers, as well as the final target users are design engineers, they should be able to participate in this process as much as possible, which requires a basic understanding of the motivation and targets of knowledge management for product design. Furthermore, professional seminars allow professional users to exchange related experiences, which is particularly essential for the improvement of existing and upcoming approaches to knowledge management in product creation. It is of utmost importance that design engineers are aware of the importance of their own contributions to knowledge management and knowledge sharing in the organization, and more specifically in the design team.

a. Formalization of knowledge

This learning element teaches ways that lead to the formalization of knowledge, which is the necessary basis for knowledge capitalization and sharing. It is about the purpose and the scope of knowledge formalization, about methods of capturing expert knowledge, methods of structuring knowledge for Function Oriented Design (FOD), as well as methods to express design knowledge for formalization.

b. Capitalization on knowledge

This element seeks to qualify Integrated Designers to capitalize on knowledge acquired in certain domains, for design tasks on other domains, as well as for variants in the same domains. It focuses on methods for the capitalization on expert knowledge, the systematic capitalization on design solution patterns, as well as on the capitalization on captured knowledge in process planning.

c. Sharing of knowledge

Once design knowledge can be formalized, the key of successful organizations is in their capability of sharing design knowledge within the organization. Successful implementation of this builds on each design engineer's competences in knowledge sharing methods, tools and its advantages for the individual designers and the whole organization. This element makes engineers aware of the importance of knowledge sharing in the organization, of understanding and applying the terms vernacular, vehicular and universal knowledge elements, as well as of ways to contribute to knowledge sharing in the organization.

d. Contextualization of knowledge

Knowledge that has been formalized can be shared and capitalized on, but it has to be put into the context of a specific project and process environment in order to be applicable in an optimal way. This process of re-contextualization of knowledge allows the transfer of knowledge from one domain to another and therefore leverages innovation. This element points out the key issues for the contextualization of knowledge and their implications on the innovation power of an organization. In particular, it underlines the aspects that show the importance of carrying out the re-contextualization in the very early phases of the project.

Current engineering design processes typically involve large design teams, where experts work simultaneously and independently using different engineering tools. Team members are often distributed in separate locations across various time zones around the world. This unit deals with some important skill elements in the context of such distributed collaborative design team scenarios. Contrary to concurrent engineering, truly collaborative Integrated Design requires actors to share ideas, data, and knowledge in order to be able to make design decisions collectively.

a. Design process moderation

In the collaborative design process, actors have to interact not only in virtual environments but also in face-to-face project meetings. In both cases, they have to be able to argue design solutions, and to discuss about constraints and requirements linked to the project development phases. In this element the student learns about the particularities of the moderation process in the case of the integrated engineering process.

b. Working in distributed engineering teams

This skill element is dedicated to the human working interactions training. The focus is on obtaining efficiency and effectiveness in the design team.

c. Communication with experts from different domains

In this element the student learns about the particularities of the communication in distributed engineering teams that are typically composed of experts from several different domains.

This unit uses real-world case studies from different industrial sectors in order to teach principles of Integrated Design in specific contexts. As such, it is meant to be an extensible pool of case studies to be used by trainers according to the relevance of the studies for a specific target audience.

a. Integration of risk considerations in design

This element teaches principles about the systematic integration of risk considerations in the design of products and systems.

b. Integrated Design in wood furniture industry

This is a specific case study of cooperative Integrated Design in the wood furniture industry, which points out as a key success factor for successfully tackling the complexity of design decisions the systematic integration of different experts during the early product development phases.

c. Integrated safety design in the automotive industry

This element studies the key competences required to integrate safety considerations systematically into product and system design. It is focused on automotive embedded systems.

d. Life-cycle assessment in Integrated Design

This element focuses on the systematic impact assessment throughout the product life-cycle during the design phase.

e. Sustainable Integrated Design

This element discusses sustainability factors in terms of environmental, economical and societal aspects.

f. Test and quality driven Integrated Design

This element deals with key issues about designing products with testability and quality assurance in mind all along the development process.

g. Virtual techniques to support the Integrated Design process

This element discusses some selected virtual technologies which designers are typically confronted with in modern design environments, and which Integrated Designers are supposed to be able to capitalize on. The focus is put on Virtual and Augmented Reality, on Rapid Prototyping, as well as on Functional Mock-Ups.


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Written by Serge Tichkiewitch

Date of update December 14, 2012

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