Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 February 2009
Concurrent engineering is a systematic approach to the integrated, concurrent design of products and the related processes of manufacturing and support. This approach is intended to cause the developers, from the outset, to consider all elements of the product life cycle from concept through disposal, including quality, cost, schedule, and user requirements. To achieve successful concurrent-engineering design, one needs an integrated framework, a well-organized design team, and adequate design tools. The research on concurrent engineering to date has focused on developing communication infrastructure, design tools, and product data representations. Little attention has been paid to developing tools to address the organizational issues involved in concurrent engineering. The authors’ research on the Virtual Design Team (VDT) attempts to develop a computerized analysis tool to sup-port the systematic design of organization structures for concurrent engineering projects. VDT is a computer simulation system. It takes descriptions of design tasks, actors (i.e., designers and managers), and organization structure as input, and produces predicted historical records of the actors’ design and coordination behavior, project du-ration, cost, and design process quality as output. VDT has been applied to model more than ten realistic engineering projects, and the results are qualitatively consistent with the predictions from theory and project managers. The VDT framework for modeling concurrent-engineering teams is described, and examples of VDT applications are presented to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Virtual Design Team approach to modeling the organizational behavior of concurrent design teams.
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