The Language of Collaborative Manufacturing is a £1.9M research project sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and led by the Universities of Bristol and Bath in collaboration with our industrial partners. We aim to deliver next-generation project dashboards that can identify potential project issues, improve productivity, and improve the management of aspects such as intellectual property, risk and cost.
In this quarter, a dashboard to support Team Bath Racing was implemented as part of an on-going study to examine the how the provision of project health monitoring dashboards affects managers’ interpretation and predictions of project activities and events. Initial results suggest managers using the dashboard focused more on time and personnel aspects of project activity, whereas managers interpretation of project activities without provision of the dashboard has been more product focused. Further, managers using the dashboard appear to be better placed in identifying and addressing missed predicted targets, having been more likely to formulate alternative strategies compared to managers not using the dashboard. In addition, through testing with Formula Student members, this study has also yielded several user driven design recommendations for further improvements to the developed dashboards.
The dashboard prototype designs were finalised in March, providing real-time insights into TBR17’s digital project activity. The dashboard provides team managers with information about the type and level of activity and time spent on creation, modification and manipulation of digital outputs across 16 core areas of their project; as well as their social media reach and impact.
On Tuesday the 6th June the LOCM team, led by Professor Newnes, will be hosting a workshop on exploiting digital assets for engineering companies. The day will provide demonstrations/interaction with the research that we have undertaken with our industrial partners with the aim of providing delegates with an overall insight into the methods we have adopted using a hands-on approach. The day will include talks from Airbus personnel and research staff. In addition, the afternoon session will provide a forum for industry to present the challenges and opportunities for exploiting digital assets in support of engineering projects, process improvement and engineering operations and asset support through-life.
We welcome all our collaborators past and preset and hope to see many of you on the 6th. To register to attend please complete the form at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/exploiting-digital-assets-to-maximise-return-on-investment-of-physical-assets-tickets-34609295334.
The event is free to attend.
During this quarter our research efforts have been largely focused on the detailed design, setup and commissioning of the data acquisition, database system, dashboard development environment and experimental program for the formula student design and build phase that takes place between February and May 2017. In addition to this we have been providing on going support for the National Composites Centre competency dashboard and Airbus in-service resource and performance toolset.
During this quarter 2 research papers have been prepared and submitted to the International Conference on Engineering Design, and a journal article has been accepted to the Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part B: Journal of Engineering Manufacture. The project team have also been invited to showcase elements of the project, and in particular, Formula Student at the Maker Faire exhibition in Newcastle in April (http://www.makerfaireuk.com). Dr. Gopsill has also been invited to present research on automatically generated Design Structure Matrices (DSMs) at the Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation at Imperial College London in June.
In our group at University of Zagreb (www.cadlab.fsb.hr), we think about ourselves as systems thinkers. For a long time, our teaching and research were focused purely on the technical systems and studying the phenomenon of the design as a product or as a process. Following the global trends and shifting a focus towards the information and knowledge management in engineering design, with particular attention being on the human role in interaction with the technical systems either as users or designers, moved us toward new, exciting area of socio-technical systems. Understanding how individuals and teams are performing in interaction with each other and technical systems, and adapt to the changes due to the internal (such as team boundaries or perturbations in organisational structure) and external (such as market trends, new customer’s requirements or changing technologies) circumstances, become recently our new research objective.
To cope with the challenges of such a multidisciplinary topic, we decided to introduce new research methods in our group, following the research paradigms borrowed from social sciences and computer science. The experimental design research becomes the central paradigm, including observation and analysis of the human participants during the individual or teamwork in engineering design, or building computer simulations of the engineering teams by application of the agent-based modelling. We are following the same in teaching, where our focus is gradually shifting towards smart products that interact and co-exist with humans in ways that were not being the case before. Possibility to acquire the real-time data about the performance and interactions of the technical systems and people are enabling us new opportunities for management of the design and development process complexity but is also opening endless possibilities for innovation in research and education.
During this quarter our research efforts have been focused on four areas:
- Eliciting user needs for a Formula Student team project health monitoring dashboard and consolidation / grouping of analytical techniques (proxies) to meet FS user needs.
- Preparing industry-facing summaries of the proxies that we have developed.
- Creating a real-time skills and competency mapping dashboard with one of our industrial partners.
- The preparation of a joint research proposal with another of our industrial partners to exploit the findings and techniques developed in this project.
Formula Student Dashboards
On the first point, in order to understand how the Formula Student team could benefit from our project’s techniques, a series of user-interviews were conducted. Academic staff supervisors and student project managers from Universities of Bath, Bristol and UWE took part in semi-structured interviews. Interviews were coded using thematic analysis, which identified 85 unique user requirements. Further axial coding and affinity diagramming showed user insights focused on four core areas of activity within the project: 1) planning and monitoring project progress, 2) CAD based design process, 3) communication and team dynamics, and 4) team competencies.
For each requirement, we discussed and agreed which were outside the scope of project management support and, in line with wider project aims, were not automatable. For the remaining 36 unique in-scope requirements, researchers tagged each with one or more of the nine developed proxies that could be applied to support that user-requirement. A hierarchical cluster analysis method was used to group user insights that could be addressed by similar sets of analytics/proxies. The outcome of this analysis was the generation 10 design scenarios. These design scenarios provide narrative descriptions which envision how users may interact with a dashboard. They both enable researchers to anchor envisioned proxy applications to the users’ requirements, work practices and context; and also provided a clear and simple means to support communication with users in the evaluation and the iterative design process of creating dashboards tailored to support Formula Student:
A joint EPSRC-funded Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) project titled “Big-data: improving aircraft performance” has been funded to exploit the findings and methods we’ve developed in the Airbus In-Service department.
This six-month long project led by Dr Lei Shi and Prof. Linda Newnes aims to embed the approaches created within the project, including big-data analytics, trend analysis and autonomic computing, to interrogate and categorise aircraft wing In-Service projects. The research at the University of Bath has demonstrated that it is possible to automatically predict the complexity, duration and cost of such repair cases. This has been achieved through interrogating 10,000+ historical projects to create and validate the proposed approaches. Initial tests have been completed to ascertain whether the approaches can be used on the ‘live’ data from the Airbus In-Service workflow system.
Our overall aims are to develop the processes through on-site development and testing, to make the approaches self-sustaining, and to assist the in-service teams with their decision-making.
Do you face similar challenges? Let us know in the comments below…
Recently we’ve been continuing our work with Formula Student (FS) as we move forward towards developing an FS dashboard. The LOCM project has been working with project data (e.g. CAD files, reports, documents, communication) generated by FS teams in the development and refinement of data analytic approaches.
Over the past few weeks, we have been conducting interviews with student project managers and academic supervisors involved in FS across three universities to gain insights into key areas of project activity, goals and issues that could be supported by project dashboards. This work has enabled us to develop user-driven design scenarios and requirements, and importantly, will help guide how we apply the data analytics that have been developed in the creation of visualisations and dashboards that are both usable and add value to FS project activity.
Research effort has been primarily focused on three areas this quarter to July: presentation of conference papers, development of the framing of the research with respect to engineering Project Health Monitoring (ePHM), and holding industrial workshops.
For the first, we’re delighted to say we’ve picked up not one, but two awards for outstanding contributions to Design ’16 and Design Computing and Cognition ’16. Check out our Publications page for more details.
Framing our Work
Secondly, following an ongoing and extensive period of framing and re-framing, the underlying constructs and methods created as part of the project, we have converged on a model of engineering Project Health Monitoring (ePHM). This model is a contextualisation and extension of the accepted model of IVHM (Intelligent Vehicle Health Monitoring):
In the Q10 report we summarised the design and format of our user-drive workshop. In particular, the workshops last 2.5-3hrs and involve three stages. The first stage is a general discussion and brainstorm of the factors that impact the performance of engineering projects. The second stage involves that ranking of the relative importance of the set of project feature that we have developed. Further, participants are asked to rate the level of understanding of these features afforded by their current tool set. The third stage is an interactive design sessions. Here the aim is for participants to individually then collaboratively develop concepts for supportive dashboards for engineering projects:
To date we have held three workshops: The first was with the Strategic Project Office of the University of Bristol, the second was with Frazer Nash Consultancy, and the third was held in Croatia with a mix of participants from industry and academia. Over 70 people have participated to date. We are planning further workshops with with an industrial partner in August and Formula Student teams later in the year.
We’ve had a busy couple of months as we begin to consolidate the various strands of work and ramp-up our industrial engagement. We ran two Participatory Design Sessions in May, picking the brains of over 50 engineers – one with Frazer Nash Consultancy, and one at the Design 2016 International design conference, with a great mix of industry and academic input…