Re-Imagining Engineering Design: Growing Radical Cyber-Physical-Socio Phenotypes

Lead Research Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Department Name: Sch Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


The fundamental goal of this proposal is to Re-Imagine Design Engineering so that new ideas and concepts are generated rapidly, and where both the product and its associated manufacturing system (including its supply chain and people) are designed concurrently and fully tailored to each other. By doing this the >70% of lifecycle and supply chain costs that are "locked in" at the concept design stage can be understood, minimised and verified.

This programme will target the transformation of Design Engineering via Interoperable Cyber-Physical-Social (CPS) Services in which: (i) engineering competences and multiscale physics are integrated by innovative digital capabilities, (ii) advanced analytics support capture of knowledge, enhance resilience and predict compliance by interoperable 'smart testing' and fully simulated lifecycle analyses to validate model-centric designs, (iii) novel business/supply chain models provide a transparent value stream from digital design through to manufacturing and pathways to ensure the UK develops the next generation of digital engineering talent. Our vision of the future where manufacturing systems are self-organising, self-aware and distributed, brings a radically different manufacturing industry than exists today.

This leads naturally to identifying four major research challenges to this programme:

1. Interoperability - CPS Design Theory: How can we generate ideas and concepts rapidly such that artefacts are designed concurrently with manufacturing systems to create resilient extended enterprises with open communication throughout the whole system?

2. The Cyber World - CPS Modelling Design & Manufacture: How can we represent concepts virtually such that key design characteristics driving intended behaviour are understood, coded and realised via robust, intelligently manufactured product variants?

3. The Physical World - CPS Concept to Reality: What verification and validation concepts are needed to find the shortest and most beneficial pathway to physical realisation aided by a cyber-physical-socio manufacturing ecosystem?

4. The Socio World - CPS The Extended Manufacturing Enterprise: How can we translate and exploit concepts in new organisational structures within a cyber-physical-socio ecosystem to accelerate evolution of design solutions across extended enterprises?

The four technical challenges are integrated and pose interdependent challenges. They form the four threads which are to be woven together in this programme. A range of approaches for modelling, evaluation and prediction are needed for the whole programme, and dealing with such diverse system entities from simulation models to individual human and business organisations necessitates a diversity of technical approaches.

The concept of 'cyber-genes' and 'cyber-seeds' that can be used in an evolutionary approach form the core thread to provide a new CPS design theory but requires significant interlinkage with the other aspects. For example, CAD models in the cyber world are sufficient for some products, but in general systems are multi-functional and multi-disciplinary and will require a range of modelling methods to provide the necessary design evaluation data, such as with whole life costing. Similarly, although possible to communicate with manufacturing (e.g. CNC machines), feedback of intelligent data directly into a live design is not yet done, and new methods are needed in both design systems and the organisation to allow this capability. Overlaying evolutionary algorithms to these will necessarily require all elements to be adapted and changed, as both the system and underlying methods evolve. Therefore, these nature analogous processes and a range of alternative approaches (e.g. fractals, agent-based systems, response surface methodologies etc.) will be explored.


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