Recent projects at the EDC

This page briefly highlights a selection of the most recent work undertaken at the EDC. Due to commercial sensitivity, descriptions relating to this are general and describe the area of work rather than specific advances. A more comprehensive list of recent work by the EDC is given below.

The integrated modelling environment

An EDC team has been working in support of the Integrated Modelling Environment (IME), sponsored by BAE SYSTEMS. The basis of this work is to develop tools and methods to aid the design and operation of complex systems throughout the lifecycle.

As part of the research programme the team have developed a modelling framework representation (MFR) using accepted UML and MDA techniques, resulting in a working cross-platform software application, used to demonstrate case study material.

As a result of this research program EDC researchers have developed:

  • Generic traceability methods: These are initially applied to system properties and have now been extended to include other information model formats such as design rationale. The information model has also been demonstrated to be extendible to include:
    • process models,
    • documentation models, and
    • enterprise models.
  • A design reuse approach as part of an overall knowledge management capability.
  • Derived a methodology for implementing optimisation within the MFR using accepted Multi-Criteria Decision Making (MCDM) techniques. This includes, Genetic Algorithms, as well as a wide variety of Multi-Attribute Decision Making (MADM) methods.
Image of: Developing emergent property representation

Developing emergent property representation

The business benefits and expected impacts of the IME approach include:

  • Improved integrated modelling architecture with resulting improvement in design and model traceability and model re-use.
  • Ability to determine which models need to be improved or developed to obtain the required levels of fidelity to ensure that the customer requirements will be met with a suitably high level of confidence earlier in the design and at minimum cost.
  • Capability to obtain an understanding of the costs of achieving given levels of dependability.
  • Aid and derive the benefits of trade-off across systems and vehicle design.
  • Increase the visibility and navigability of complex integrated modelling structures.
  • Development of a more "fit-for-purpose" modelling capability.
  • Aid to non-fragmented modelling, whole product trade-off and reduced re-work.

Decision support framework (DSF)

Recently the EDC has completed and delivered a software tool to BNFL. This work is addressing a significant challenge in managing legacy waste at Sellafield in a safe, timely and cost effective manner. The primary task is to evaluate and select an appropriate site remediation option from a series of alternatives, given a range of objectives, constraints and metrics. Consideration must be given to material extraction methods, implementation of optimal transportation routes and utilisation of a balance of existing and new treatment facilities to enable material to be prepared for interim safe storage.

It is necessary, therefore, to examine the advantages and disadvantages of each option against the criteria and performance indicators by which they are to be assessed.

Therefore, in order to satisfy these requirements, the EDC has undertaken the design and development of a Decision Support Framework (DSF) that enable an efficient and methodical evaluation of alternative options.

The DSF operates by way of a computer based interactive tool which accommodates a combination of objectives and subjective performance data together with alternative preference structures. It is important to note that the designer/ project manager retains full control of the decision making process. Based on the DSF evaluations, he is free to select the most appropriate site remediation option.

To evaluate alternative options, the DSF needs information of the following type:

  • technical options,
  • constraints,
  • objective and subjective performance criteria, and
  • priorities.

Design change application (DCA)

The Design Change Application project (in conjunction with BNFL) was concerned with improving the process of design change. In large complex projects it is common for the design to be "frozen" after it has reached a certain level of maturity this then allows construction to proceed with some certainty. However, in the real world changes often have to be made to the design after it has been "frozen" - these changes are generally costly and the cause of delays.

The project outputs included a comprehensive and detailed functional specification for a work flow system to automate and record the process of design change applications.

This work flow system addresses the key issues of insufficient management control and inadequate information on design change applications. These issues were identified by the EDC team by carrying out a study of paperwork, procedures and numerous interviews with BNFL staff.

The implementation of the work flow system will be carried out by an internal company project with EDC assistance where necessary.

Value for money (VFM): Metrics Study

The EDC recently undertook a short "Value for Money Metrics Study" on behalf of BNFL Site Remediation. The objective of this study was to look at how Value for Money Metrics (VFMM) could be used to help evaluate the relative merits of the various potential site remediation activities. The study looked at metrics used in parallel, safety critical industries, which would be relevant and useful for the site remediation exercise. These metrics in conjunction with existing valid metrics used in other areas of BNFL were used to compile a consensus set of metrics. This was a scoping study which clearly signposted which further work is necessary in this area.

Job sequencing and scheduling

The work was undertaken by the EDC as part of the VRShips project to enable the creation of job sequencing and scheduling for real-world production problems. It is important today to plan and schedule product development activities with the specific aim of reducing product development lead times. Therefore, it is obviously crucial to be able to represent and manipulate sequencing of product development activities.

Efficient planning and scheduling of product development work inevitably involves data inter-relationships of a kind that often forces iterations. This is because a given activity is often influenced by the results of some downstream activities, and these results must be taken into account when they become available in representation and a manipulation tool is necessary.

In general, in a jobshop scheduling problem, there are k machines (processors) and n different jobs. Each job is composed of a set of m tasks and each task requires a specific operation to be performed in a standard processing time. There are a number of user defined criteria which are used to create an optimal solution. In the output, the tool is designed to create a list of activities for each resource and their corresponding duration, start time and finish time.

A Multiple Criteria Genetic Algorithm (MCGA) was used for this purpose. Genetic Algorithms (GA's) have been described as directed random search procedures based on the Darwinian theory of evolution, i.e. the mechanics of natural selection and genetics.

Recent industrial research projects

The following table provides a list of other recent work at the EDC. For more details or to see if we already have a solution to your engineering problem please get in touch.

Project title/descriptionPrincipal Industrial Collaborator
EUCLID: Survivability, durability and performance of naval composite structures BAE Systems, DERA
Systems integration consortium (Integrated Modelling Environment) BAE Systems
Design change applications BNFL
Decision support framework BNFL
The time dimension and through life costs in the design, manufacture and operation of large MTO products AMEC, Rolls-Royce, Kvaerner Water
Integration and Enhancement of the Interfaces between Design, Fabrication, Maintenance and Operation of Computer Systems Kvaerner Oil and Gas
Strength and Fatigue Analysis and Mooring Design of FPSO's. Armstrong Technology Associaties
The role of design in the business process of new MTO products Rolls-Royce, AMEC
Increasing robustness and decreasing risk throughout the design process Siemens Power Generation, BAE Systems
Design decomposition, Modelling schemes and conflict control BNFL, Amerada Hess
Generic specification for engineering systems BNFL, RR Industrial Controls, BAE Systems
Integration of the design process Kvaerner Oil and Gas, BNFL, AMEC
Design for a clean environment AMEC, BNFL
Improvement of the On-line Control of Strip Mills CORUS plc
Design for upgradeability CORUS plc
Development of an Integrated Management Reporting System Miller Welding Engineers Ltd
The use and re-use of emerging design knowledge in the assessment of design margins BAE Systems, BNFL
Decision support in the concurrent concept design environment BNFL
EDONET: Engineering design optimisation network EPSRC
Generic system modelling and controller design of modular robotic machines British Gas
Optimisation of steam turbine design Rolls-Royce
Design for a Clean Environment EPSRC
Multiple Criteria Decision Support for Concept Design BNFL
Energy Efficient Hullform Design for Advanced Marine Vehicles Int. Coatings Ltd
Increasing Robustness and Decreasing Risk Throughout the Design Process EPSRC
Process Intensification in the Water Industries Kvaerner Water
Communication and Internet Tools Various
Design for Neural Networks Various
Design for Coatings Surface Technology, UES, Tecforce, Crystallume
Design for Drag Reduction: Energy Efficient Hullform Design for Advanced Marine Vehicles Various
Predictive Maintenance for Power Generating Equipment Various
SYRIOS: Shiprepair Yard Related Integrated Operating System Various ship repair organisations

Contact the EDC

For further details of the EDC's activities please get in touch with us through our contact page.

Commercial Research at Newcastle University

A full list of commercially available research facilities for Newcastle University can be found on the Services for Business web pages.

Highlight for April 2008

Integrated Modelling for Strategic Planning

Strategic planning for sustainability requires complex systems to be modelled.

Because of this complexity, it is unrealistic to develop new and comprehensive models for each of the numerous possible situations likely to be encountered. Many models already exist ...

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Previous highlights

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The EDC often hosts, arranges or is associated with a wide variety of seminars related to its activities.

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