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.
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…
This week we’re at the 7th International Design Computing and Cognition conference in Chicago.
Our project has just been presented via an elevator pitch and a poster. The feedback was great, with lots of interest and enthusiasm for the concept of engineering Project Health Monitoring (ePHM).
Delegates were really interested in the set of project features that we have developed and the ‘proxies’ that we use to monitor these. As a consequence, we are going to add a new section to this website that summarises each proxy and the project features for which it can provide insight. Want to know more? Check out the poster and abstract below…
As part of our efforts to understand what matters most to engineering project managers, and what they most struggle with when it comes to managing their products, we have been conducting a survey to develop an in-depth understanding of the major performance-influencing aspects of projects within various company contexts, and how well these are monitored and understood by the project management tools currently in use.
Waking up at 4:30am? We don’t mind when it’s because we’re flying to Cavtat in Croatia for the Design 2016 conference!
If we can drag ourselves away from the pool at the ‘Team LOCM’ villa, we will be running a workshop on “Designing the next generation of project management dashboards for global engineering projects.” This will be at 13:45 today Monday 16th May in Salon 5 – please do come along.
You’ll also see some of the team presenting throughout the week:
- Session 214: 8:15-10:15 Tuesday 17th May, Congress Hall Konavle
Dr Chris Snider – Determining work focus, common language and issues in engineering projects through topic persistence.
- Session D212: 08:15-10:15 Tuesday 17th May, Congress Hall Bobara
Dr Duncan Boa – Discriminating Engineering Information Interaction using eye tracking and an information operations model.
- Session D412: 08:15-10:15 Thursday 19th May, Congress Hall Bobara
Dr James Gopsill – Computer aided design user interaction as a sensor for monitoring engineers and the engineering design process.