Consistent digitalization of engineering design – an ontology-based approach
Editor: Ekströmer, Philip; Schütte, Simon and Ölvander, Johan
Author: Kügler, Patricia; Schleich, Benjamin; Wartzack, Sandro
Institution: Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Digitalization and Industry 4.0 are currently trend words in companies and research, which express the striving for digitalized manufacturing environments and autonomous manufacturing processes enabled by cyber-physical production systems. But where do we stand in product development? Modern virtual product development tools and processes allow the definition of product geometry and shape in fully three-dimensional computer-aided design environments. Additionally, even semantic information, for instance about the subsequent manufacturing, can be included employing feature-technology. Moreover, virtual testing of these three-dimensional product models can be performed using sophisticated computer-aided engineering and simulation tools leading to digitally supplied output data. However, CAD and simulation tools mainly support later design activities, while there is a lack of computer support in early design stages. This lack of digitalization in such early design stages eliminates the possibility of retracing the customer requirements in the product at late design activities. In consequence, the decisions made during the design process are hardly comprehensible and therefore existing product knowledge is difficult to reuse. This contribution shows the needs for a consistent digitalization of engineering design with focus on the early stages. This consistent digitalization refers to a representation and linkage of work results in design processes, which allows inference and reasoning between them. Thus, reusing of product knowledge becomes more comprehensible. Moreover, this contribution presents an ontology-based approach for this consistent digitalization, which particularly enables product developers to link early design stages to late design stages and to establish relations between customer requirements and the finished product. The approach thus supports the efficient reuse of relevant design knowledge employing an ontology. Besides this, the paper discusses the general advantages of ontologies for transparently storing and efficiently providing product knowledge. With the novel ontology-based approach proposed in this contribution, the reuse of finished product development processes becomes more efficient and transparent.