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Traceability of engineering information

With the current emphasis being on companies to supply products and provide support services throughout the product lifetime, advanced engineering information traceability methods, models and tools are required to be developed, which allow the information development to be traced into the future.

Today, with the trend of globalisation, product development companies are facing fiercer competition. To survive in the global market, companies must strive to decrease development and product lifecycle cost, and improve product quality and customer satisfaction. Therefore, a traditional business model within the engineering and manufacturing industry is now being replaced with one based on a product-service paradigm. The shift applies across a range of different sectors, including automotive, aerospace, energy systems, shipbuilding, construction, health care, and defence. One of the challenges associated with the shift in paradigm is that the provision of effective through-life product support requires that engineering information (EI) remain traceable (accessible, understandable and reusable), throughout the years or decades that a product remains in service. The biggest obstacle to this at the moment is the current practice of insufficient EI capturing and documentation, and inadequate support to the tracing of reasons behind the EI development. Recent studies show that 20% of an engineer’s time is spent doing creative engineering activities, while 80% is for administration, communication, waiting for approval, decisions and information. During the product development process, an engineer can spend over 50% of their time handling information. Thus, the efficiency of the product development process and indeed the quality, depend considerably on how well engineers are able to utilise large amounts of information. Studies have shown that during engineering design, less than 50% of the information required by designers to complete their jobs was actually available and even then, only 20% of this information can be provided by existing applications. The EI has a central role in product development: it describes and documents the constitution and behaviour of the product; it drives the product development process and is the object of verification and validation procedures. With the current emphasis being on companies to supply products and provide support services throughout the product lifetime, the realisation is that the EI being lost can aid in both the product lifecycle support and also the development of new products. The stakeholders with different roles in the product development process would like to leverage all relevant information no matter where it originated, no matter what its format, and no matter where it resides in order to help their organization innovate, compete, provide service and grow. In order to understand and reuse existing EI along meaning, reasons, arguments, documentations, choices, critique, consequences etc. engineers need to be able to trace EI development. To support these activities, new and advanced EI traceability methods, models and tools are required, which allow the EI development to be traced into the future. The project’s objective is to establish a framework for traceability of EI development within the new and evolving paradigm of the long and total product-service life cycle. To achieve this objective, two particular key aims have been set: (1) To develop tools, methods, and associated theoretical foundations for understanding and supporting the traceability of EI development; (2) To investigate the dynamics of the EI development throughout the product life cycle in order to provide an environment in which the traceability tools and methods can be made operational and effective in an industrial context. The project will build on state-of-the-art developments in the exploration of principles for EI management. It will go further, in that it will seek to incorporate development of the engineering information objects, sources, stakeholders, decisions and rationale, as well as time dimension into EI development space and extend in such way the state-of-the-art methods and tools. The proposal argues that by building an approach to EI development traceability that will integrate all the dimensions, it will result in a traceability framework referring to context and audit trails of EI development to be identified. It is expected that all the results will be compressed by building the prototype tools in order to explain the contributions. There are five research and development work packages each including specific tasks planned for the project: (1) Identify the current approaches and best practices associated with traceability of information development in other sectors. (2) Develop the preliminary model of traceability of EI development. (3) Investigate and map traceability of EI development stakeholder space. (4) Propose a traceability of EI development methodology and prototype tools architecture. (5) Develop prototype tools and validate methodology in real product development projects.
Acronym: 
TRENIN
Project ID: 
4 911
Start date: 
01-07-2009
Project Duration: 
24months
Project costs: 
500 000.00€
Technological Area: 
ELECTRONICS, IT AND TELECOMS TECHNOLOGY
Market Area: 
INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTS / MANUFACTURING

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.