A Simulation-Based Method to Evaluate the Impact of Product Architecture on Product Evolvability
Research in Engineering Design, Forthcoming
41 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2015 Last revised: 5 Jan 2018
Date Written: August 29, 2015
Products evolve over time via the continual redesigns of interdependent components. Product architecture, which is embodied in the structure of interactions among components, influences the ability for the product to be subsequently evolved. Despite extensive studies of change propagation via inter-component connections, little is known about the specific influences of product architecture on product evolvability. Related metrics and methods to assess the evolvability of products with given architectures are also under-developed. This paper proposes a simulation-based method to assess the isolated effect of product architecture on product evolvability by analyzing a design structure matrix. We define product evolvability as the ability of the product’s design to subsequently generate heritable performance-improving variations, and propose a quantitative measure for it. We demonstrate the proposed method by using it to investigate a wide spectrum of model-generated DSMs representing products with varied architectures, and show that modularity and inter-component influence cycles promote product evolvability. Our primary contribution is a repeatable method to assess and compare alternative product architectures for architecture selection or redesign for evolvability. A second contribution is the simulation-based evidence about the impacts of two particular product architectural patterns on product evolvability. Both contributions aim to aid in designing for evolvability.
Keywords: product architecture, product evolvability, design structure matrix, simulation, design, innovation
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