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Creating a Designer Readiness Level for Future Manufacturing (DRLfFM) process uptake.

Project Description

“TRansdiciplinary Engineering Design – TREND” is a 5-year platform grant (1/12/2017 – 30/11/2022) investigating Design Beyond Disciplines – in particular Transdisciplinary working. The platform is led by the University of Bath with Bristol University and the University of West of England being the academic partners. The Industrial partners supporting the grant include, Airbus Group Limited, Renishaw PLC, Moog Controls Ltd and Cubik Innovation Ltd. This PhD is linked with the research programme and the successful candidate will be an integral member of the TREND team.

Expected PhD research focus:
Engineering designs are often created and then appraised by manufacturing engineers based on the capabilities of their current manufacturing techniques. This can, in some instances be counterproductive because the original stated design intent could be diluted or even lost. To add to these limitations, Design for Manufacturing (DfM) techniques have not changed significantly, since Boothroyd, Dewhurst and Knight recognised the need to create rule-based design metrics over 30 years ago! With the advances in various processes and ever-increasing quality requirements, these rules are often insufficient for traditional manufacturing processes yet alone for emerging techniques such as Additive Manufacturing (AM) and hybrid manufacturing (combining processes such as additive and subtractive manufacturing).

With manufacturing technologies such as AM, there is now the ability to manufacture highly complex parts, but with current design methods the ability to generate first time right products and components is a major challenge. The AM strategic research agenda highlights the need to develop design tools and methods specifically orientated for these new, emerging manufacturing technologies.

As part of the platform grant we evidenced that to meet future challenges of society through advanced design and manufacturing such as AM, there was a need for Transdisciplinary working.

The over-arching aim of TREND is to provide tools to assist engineers to work in a transdisciplinary manner and to identify the types of engineers that are transdisciplinary.

Identifying what makes an engineer transdisciplinary and how to assess their current readiness level to be transdisciplinary is the focus of the PhD activity.

This will be achieved via working with the TREND team who will be undertaking immersive industry case studies to inform the research. The PhD will have a particular focus on ‘common’ characteristics and design behaviour within and across the case studies. Mapping findings at various life cycle stages such as designer requirements, use of digital tools etc. for each case study/domain against the manufacturing life-cycle phases. This would be followed by cross case-study analysis. The analysis may use techniques such as input/output system modelling to map the designer requirements at each stage of the manufacturing life cycle, and/or socio-technical analysis could be used to classify and model the designer behaviour.

In summary the PhD research will be required to create a structured framework to estimate a designer readiness level for future manufacturing (DRLfFM) process uptake; similar to a Technology or Data Readiness Level weighting.

The outputs from the PhD are expected to be transferrable to our industry partners (and beyond) to determine their capability to evolve with manufacturing advances, assess their ability to meet project demands and through the PhD research provide a means to identify gaps where they may need to assist their staff.

Expected start date: June 2019

Funding Notes

A UK/EU award will provide full tuition fees, an annual Training Support Fee of £1,000, and a tax-free maintenance payment of £15,009 (2019-20 rate) for up to 3 years

How good is research at University of Bath in Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 61.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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