Today, most companies consider assembly aspects later in the design process, often in a manual way, solely relying on the experience of assembly engineers. This leads to numerous design changes later on, causing significant extra costs. The current industrial context requires companies to aim at a first-time-right, “down to lot size 1 at the cost of volume production” strategy. Hence, considering assembly aspects too late or in a trial-and-error way is no longer an option. All companies involved in the user group of this project indicate a clear need to support their engineers with methods and software tools enabling assessment of assembly complexity in an early design stage, allowing co-optimization of product performance with ease-of-assembly in a quantitative way, and allowing trade-off analysis of various solutions.
As these software tools are beyond the state-of-the-art, the research partners (Flanders Make-CodesignS, Flanders Make-ProductionS, AnSyMo/CoSys-lab, DMMS, and EEDT) are joining forces to shift the state-of-the-art in product-assembly co-design, aiming at the following innovation goals:
- a software environment for the formalization of assembly knowledge (e.g. Design-for-Assembly rules, assembly complexity metrics),
- tools and algorithms for automated multi-objective optimization of the early-stage design of a product, taking into account the product performance and its assembly complexity,
- tools and algorithms to automatically find the optimal assembly process (order of steps) and assembly system (resources allocation), for a given product design and
- a framework for the co-design of both product and its assembly system by combining both 2) and 3) in a semi-automated workflow.
To achieve this framework, the research partners propose 4 core research work packages, following a stepwise approach:
- quantification of DFA rules and assembly complexity metrics
- (integration of these in product optimization
- ( automatic derivation and optimization of assembly process and system from a product design
- (semi-automated product-assembly co-design
Nine industrial partners already signed in: Atlas Copco, Borit, CNHi, Noesis, Reynaers Aluminium, SISW, Tenneco, Vitalo, VHA. The companies of the user group expect that applying these codesign methods and tools will lead to improved designs, internal cost reduction (up to 25%), and will allow them to strengthen their market position and keep their production in Flanders.
Targeted companies for further valorization are
- developers and builders of systems made up out of a large number of components
- developers and builders of systems where assembly involves a large number of/very specific constraints
- developers of supporting tools