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Unpleasant Surprises in the Design of Complex Products: Why Do Changes Propagate?

[+] Author Affiliations
Owolabi Ariyo, Claudia M. Eckert, P. John Clarkson

University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Paper No. DETC2006-99409, pp. 33-42; 10 pages
  • ASME 2006 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 4a: 18th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, September 10–13, 2006
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4258-4 | eISBN: 0-7918-3784-X
  • Copyright © 2006 by ASME


This paper reports on an investigation into the modes of change propagation in complex products based on a series of case studies in an aerospace and an automotive company. The paper identifies three main conditions under which change tends to propagate and highlights the heterogeneous nature of factors that contribute to propagation. It was found that change tends to propagate between components when there are insufficient margins between coupled components, when there is an encroachment of design constraints or as a result of shortcomings of tools and processes used to support change processes. The paper concludes with a discussion on the implications of the nature of change propagation mechanisms on predicting the knock-on effects of change.

Copyright © 2006 by ASME
Topics: Design



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