An object-oriented framework for collaborative engineering design
Engineering projects, in general, involve a large number of components and the interaction of multiple technologies. The components included in the product are decided in an iterative design process. In each iteration, interfaces and interface conditions among these components are designed with slack to account for potential variations created when the components and interface values become better known. Iteration proceeds towards increasing detail; design personnel may change, and their numbers expand with increasing level of detail. This multi-faceted nature of engineering problems demands considerable coordination between various participants. Lack of coordination may result in several undesirable effects, which may result in a productivity loss.
A computer based system called DICE (Distributed and Integrated environment for Computer-aided Engineering) which is aimed at addressing the coordination and communication problem in engineering, is described in this paper. DICE can be envisioned as a network of computers and users, where the communication and coordination is achieved through a global database and a control mechanism.
The object-oriented methodology seems to provide a natural way to encode engineering product and process models. An implementation of DICE using a commercial object-oriented database management system (GEMSTONE) was developed. Generic objects needed for collaborative work are identified. A detailed description of the prototype — called MagpieBridge — is also provided.
KeywordsStructural Engineer System Object Class Hierarchy Global Database Instance Variable
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