Date of Award

12-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Mechanical Engineering

Advisor

Summers, Joshua D

Committee Member

Fadel, Georges

Committee Member

Kurz, Mary E

Committee Member

Levine, Joshua A

Committee Member

Mocko, Gregory M

Abstract

The overall goal of this research is to improve the product configuration change management process. The increase in the demand for highly customizable products has led to many manufacturers using mass customization to meet the constantly changing demands of a wide consumer base. However, effectively managing the configurations can be difficult, especially in large manufacturers or for complex products with a large number of possible configurations. This is largely due to a combination of the scope of the configuration management system and the difficulty in understanding how changes to one element of a configuration can propagate through the configuration system. To increase the engineer's ability to understand the configuration management system and how changes can affect it, an improved method is required. Based on the results of a case study at a major automotive OEM, a configuration change management method is developed to address the aforementioned gap. In addition, a set of design enablers is deployed as part of the method. The major contribution of this work is the improved method for configuration change management and the use of graph visualization in exploring configuration changes. The use of graph visualizations for configuration management is validated through a user study, four implementation studies using ongoing configuration changes at the OEM, and user feedback and evaluation. The method is validated through application in three historical cases and user feedback. The results show that the method increases the capabilities of the engineer in exploring a proposed configuration change and identifying any potential errors.

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