Research Papers

Enabling Flexibility in Engineering Systems: A Taxonomy of Procedures and a Design Framework

[+] Author and Article Information
Michel-Alexandre Cardin

Department of Industrial and
Systems Engineering,
National University of Singapore,
Block E1A, #06-25,
1 Engineering Drive 2,
e-mail: macardin@nus.edu.sg

The ex post case study by de Weck et al. [15] is described in more details in Section 4.2.

Decision rules are used to determine when it is appropriate to exercise the flexibility in operations, in light of some observation regarding the main uncertainty sources. They are crucial to the lifecycle value assessment of flexible systems design concepts [91,2]. A bad decision rule can destroy value instead of improving it. For example in the HCSC study, the company had a threshold for office needs after which they would expand the building vertically. They would expand once a particular personnel threshold was reached. Decision rules are crucial assessing quantitatively the lifecycle performance impact of flexibility, as described in Section

Contributed by the Design Theory and Methodology Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received September 24, 2012; final manuscript received October 1, 2013; published online November 7, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Irem Y. Tumer.

J. Mech. Des 136(1), 011005 (Nov 07, 2013) (14 pages) Paper No: MD-12-1468; doi: 10.1115/1.4025704 History: Received September 24, 2012; Revised October 01, 2013

This paper presents a five-phase taxonomy of systematic procedures to enable flexibility in the design and management of engineering systems operating under uncertainty. The taxonomy integrates contributions from surveys, individual articles, and books from the literature on engineering design, manufacturing, product development, and real options analysis obtained from professional e-index search engines. Thirty design procedures were classified based on the kind of early conceptual activities they support: baseline design, uncertainty recognition, concept generation, design space exploration, and process management. Each procedure is evaluated based on ease of use to enable flexibility analysis, whether it can be used directly in collaborative design activities, and has a proven applicability record in industry and research. The organizing principles integrate the procedures into a cohesive and systematic design framework. Demonstration applications on engineering systems case studies show that it helps designers select relevant procedures in different phases of the design process, depending on the context, available analytical resources, and objectives. In turn, the case studies show that the design framework helps generate concepts with improved lifecycle performance compared to baseline concepts. The taxonomy provides guidance to organize ongoing research efforts, and highlights potential contribution areas in this field of engineering design research.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME
Topics: Design , Uncertainty
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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Example cumulative distribution functions for conceptual baseline and flexible systems design concepts, using NPV as lifecycle performance metric

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Taxonomy of procedures to support the design of engineering systems for flexibility



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