Computer support to Product Design and Life-Cycle Management is currently dominated by PLM systems, and industry is not very happy with the support provided. Industrial design methodologies and PLM systems create many disjoint, pre-typed product structures. This approach belongs to the era of communicating product knowledge as engineering drawings. In this post, we discuss the need for replacing these static structures by a single federated product model, from which any structure or aspect can be derived.  The federated product model is managed as a family of configurable system and component models, as part of an active knowledge architecture (AKA). With the advent of AKA we see completely new approaches, concepts, operational methodologies, visual modeling methods, enterprise architectures and design solutions emerging. Read the rest of this entry »

Properties define the data values that are important in a domain. In product design, properties and parameters are used for quantifying requirements, for setting agreed upon targets, and for assessing the qualities of different solutions. Product data management (PDM) therefore places properties at the centre of attention, and properties are perhaps the most important kind of elements in PDM standards, cf. independent property definition in STEP, and e.g. the DIN product property dictionary. Design methodology processes are defined according to what kind of properties are defined, related, mapped, balanced, estimated, calculated etc. in each step. Generally, required and target properties are defined long before the objects that will eventually possess them are properly identified or classified.

Yet in IT, properties and attributes are normally treated as second class citizens compared to objects. In database schema, they define the columns of entities, while in object oriented design, they are just subordinate features of object classes. OWL (Web Ontology Language) is a notable exception. It supports property modeling independent of object classes. In the reflective variant OWL Full users may remove the differences between objects and properties, to model features of and relationships between properties. This variant is however seldom applied, because it cannot guarantee sound formal reasoning for automatic execution. In information systems research, Jeffrey Parsons has shown how properties determine classification structures, rather than vice versa. These examples, however, are exceptions to the common practice. This is why our modeling principles include the representation of properties as first class citizens. Read the rest of this entry »

Product Life-cycle Management (PLM) systems have been developed and implemented since the early 1990s. Early solutions were based on a chain of application systems with proprietary user interfaces, information logistics and databases. At the turn of the century product data management standards, protocols and meta-data for application integration matured. Knowledge Based Engineering (KBE), process and collaboration capabilities were introduced. Ten years later customers are still not satisfied with the capabilities offered and value delivered by current solutions. Read the rest of this entry »