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Design configuration: The engineering challenge

In the life of an engineered product, there are many stages: from an initial idea through design, manufacture, use, maintenance and end of life processing. Product designs are typically assemblies of parts which themselves can be broken down into sub-assemblies and, ultimately, individual components.  These hierarchical structures are called “bills of materials” or BoMs. A product design may consist of several distinct but related bills of materials. For example, one bill of materials may be used to direct the assembly of a product whereas another may be used to direct its disassembly, e.g., to change a replaceable part. Each bill of materials describes a different design configuration.The research described in these pages is exploring how engineers move from one configuration to another and the kinds of computational tools that could support them in doing this. The examples included in this page show the kinds of BoM one might expect for a simple test case product.