Product Modeling on Multiple Abstraction Levels
Typically, Mass Customization (MC) is most often described in relationship with mass production companies. However, in more and more cases, it is shown what MC means for manufacturing-to-order companies and even for engineer-to-order companies. This paper is initiated by some of the challenges associated with modeling of products and product families in such companies. For some of them, the situation is made extreme by market conditions, which imply long order horizons and many changes of the orders both before and after order acceptance.
With focus on these challenges, an approach is described about modeling of product families on multiple abstraction levels in a way where customer driven product configuration is concentrated on decisions, which are relatively invariant throughout order processing. The approach, which is used here, is based on the theory of general systems and outlined in combination with the abstraction mechanisms classification and composition together with object-oriented analysis and design. A generic model component is presented for enabling representation of models as data models.
Extending a model with more and more details is very typically and is the traditional view derived from the predominant type of modeling tools, e.g. CAD software, where the primary focus is on geometry. It is, however, very important to state that modeling must also be performed on different levels of abstraction. First, the abstraction levels must be identified and, subsequently, each abstraction level must be specified in greater detail.
The modeling approach includes guidelines about how the individual levels can be identified and defined. It is argued that the abstraction levels can be utilized in connection with both analytic and synthetic modeling. Hence, they can be applied to both requirement definition and design by modeling. By this approach, it is also shown how the focus of product configuration must be shifted to identification and definition of attributes instead of modules and components and considerations about the ability to perform the functions, which are required by the customer, are very primary and should be addressed at higher abstraction levels.
Key wordsMass customization product configuration product model product family model abstraction level information modeling classification composition object-oriented analysis and design module types
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