Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Software process improvement for knowledge engineering

A key activity in the design and manufacture of aircraft is the generation of 3-dimensional geometric models of components. Until recently this activity was a labour intensive, manual process using computer aided design (CAD) tools. Following a number of pilot projects which investigated the possibility of providing computer assistance to designers, and so automate the design of such models as far as possible, the intelligent computer aided design (ICAD) system was investigated which is based on a combination of artificially intelligent and object-oriented paradigms as well as third party software components. Early results of the new methodology and its related technology has been very encouraging. Comparison of the quality and accuracy of project estimates through to the number of change requests received, showed that a 30 % improvement figure would not be unrealistic. These savings do not even take into account the human factors of confidence, control and morale improvements offered by the Process Improvement Experiment (PIE). Several bootcheck assessments have been carried out since the PIE. These third party assessments indicate that there has been substantial improvement in the ICAD operation since the first assessment. The major change has occurred around the lifecycle processes which through PIE are now all defined and in operation. PIE was applied to a project aimed at replicating the nacelle bid process (a fully enclosed fairing around the aircraft engine). These bids have been historically late and inaccurate, mainly due to the level of detail now demanded by customers. This inaccuracy looses business through inability to quickly provide an optimum design and cost figure required by the customer and the in-house costing process. The PIE itself provided all the support processes and methodologies needed for this application and project, processes which previously did not exist.


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