Research Outcomes

Key outcomes are reported here against our research objectives.

(1) To specify three case study scenarios in collaboration with the industrial partners and other end users.

Two robot case studies were introduced in a poster at the DCC ’16 conference (DCC 16 poster) and reported in two conference papers (DESIGN 2016 and ICoRD 17). A third case study was developed but the detail is confidential. However, we replicated the design structures and their representations in the technology demonstrator (see later, Objectives 3 & 4) using a synthetic case study based on the robot case studies. Results from the project were also used in a separately funded project on complex decision making which is reported in a paper for the ICED 17 conference (McKay, A, Sammonds, G, Ahmed-Kristensen, S, Irnazarow, A, Robinson, M “Using embedded design structures to unravel a complex decision in a product development system”). The research team also supervised six undergraduate student projects where students developed case studies from their own industry experience including aircraft maintenance and the automotive and chemical sectors. Together our case studies covered BoMs to support manufacture, assembly, maintenance, supply and service, along with other kinds of design structure such as functional decompositions and descriptions.

(2) To review approaches … to embed design structures … and implement at least two in software …

A review of approaches is reported in the DESIGN 2016 paper and the subject of a journal paper that is under review. A series of four software prototypes [StrEmbed-4], based on lattice theory [Szász, 1963; Grätzer, 1971] were built. These let us export BoMs from CAD systems in a neutral format and use them to generate hypercube lattices. In conjunction with the editing capability of StrEmbed-4, we demonstrated the technical feasibility of embedding BoMs into lattice structures and provided an early command line interface to restructure BoMs.

3) To create technology demonstrators …. 4) To evaluate the technology demonstrators ….

The case studies were used to demonstrate the functionality of the StrEmbed prototypes and a technology demonstrator is being built, driven from a synthetic engineering process challenge, using data from one or more robot case studies and replicating the design structures and representations from the confidential industry case study.

5) To identify … opportunities for engineering users and … wider academic communities including … solution providers such as maths & computing and … users … such as those relating data across scales.

We contributed to the development of shape grammar implementations through participation in a DCC’16 workshop that has led to a paper proposing a novel lattice-based implementation method for shape grammar interpreters that has the potential to dramatically improve the performance of shape grammar implementations (“Exploiting lattice structures in shape grammar implementation”). We are also building relationships with colleagues in other disciplines where there are potential applications of embedding.


Szász, G. (1963). Introduction to Lattice Theory. Budapest: The Publishing House of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
Grätzer, G. (1971). Lattice Theory: First Concepts and Distributive Lattices. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman and Company.