The Product-Assembly Co-Design (PACo) project is a project within the Design & Optimization cluster of Flanders Make. The project aims to bridge the gap between product design and assembly system design by incorporating assembly knowledge into the early stages of product development. Today, most companies look at assembly aspects later in the design process, often manually, relying solely on the experience of assembly engineers. This later leads to numerous design changes, resulting in significant additional costs. Today's industry context requires companies to strive for a first-time-right, "down to lot size 1 at the expense of volume production" strategy. Thinking about installation aspects too late or experimentally is therefore no longer an option.
As these software tools go beyond the state-of-the-art, the research partners (FM-CodesignS, FMProductionS, AnSyMo / CoSys lab, DMMS and EEDT) will join forces to develop the state-of-the-art in product assembly co design, aimed at the following innovation goals:
- a software environment for formalizing assembly knowledge (e.g. Design-for-Assembly rules, assembly complexity metrics),
- tools and algorithms for automated multi-objective optimization of the early design of a product, considering product performance and assembly complexity,
- tools and algorithms to automatically find the optimal assembly process (sequence of steps) and assembly system (resource allocation), for a given product design and
- a framework for the co-design of both the product and the assembly system by combining both 2) and 3) in a semi-automatic workflow.
To achieve this framework, the research partners propose 4 core research work packages, following a step-by-step approach: (i) quantification of DFA rules and measurement data of assembly complexity, (ii) integration of these into product optimization, (iii) automatic derivation and optimization of assembly process and system from a product design and (iv) semi-automatic product assembly co-design. The main tangible results consist of a meta model to describe a product, the assembly process and the assembly system, a graphical user interface for the transformation from qualitative DFA rules to quantitative assembly complexity statistics, optimization algorithms for an optimal product, assembly process and assembly system design and a workflow to perform product assembly co-design by combining these optimization algorithms.
The project will use at least 3 generic use cases (related to the co-design challenges), defined in close collaboration with the companies of the user group, and the results will be validated on small validation cases (defined by the companies). The project will result in a methodology, supported by software tools, for product assembly co-design. The project results can be marketed (i) as a generic software toolset, (ii) a custom solution or (iii) a technical design service.