Automatic generation of design structure matrices through the evolution of product models

James A. Gopsill, Chris Snider, Chris McMahon, Ben Hicks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (SciVal)
162 Downloads (Pure)


Dealing with component interactions and dependencies remains a core and fundamental aspect of engineering, where conflicts and constraints are solved on an almost daily basis. Failure to consider these interactions and dependencies can lead to costly overruns, failure to meet requirements, and lengthy redesigns. Thus, the management and monitoring of these dependencies remains a crucial activity in engineering projects and is becoming ever more challenging with the increase in the number of components, component interactions, and component dependencies, in both a structural and a functional sense. For these reasons, tools and methods to support the identification and monitoring of component interactions and dependencies continues to be an active area of research. In particular, design structure matrices (DSMs) have been extensively applied to identify and visualize product and organizational architectures across a number of engineering disciplines. However, the process of generating these DSMs has primarily used surveys, structured interviews, and/or meetings with engineers. As a consequence, there is a high cost associated with engineers' time alongside the requirement to continually update the DSM structure as a product develops. It follows that the proposition of this paper is to investigate whether an automated and continuously evolving DSM can be generated by monitoring the changes in the digital models that represent the product. This includes models that are generated from computer-aided design, finite element analysis, and computational fluid dynamics systems. The paper shows that a DSM generated from the changes in the product models corroborates with the product architecture as defined by the engineers and results from previous DSM studies. In addition, further levels of product architecture dependency were also identified. A particular affordance of automatically generating DSMs is the ability to continually generate DSMs throughout the project. This paper demonstrates the opportunity for project managers to monitor emerging product dependencies alongside changes in modes of working between the engineers. The application of this technique could be used to support existing product life cycle change management solutions, cross-company product development, and small to medium enterprises who do not have a product life cycle management solution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-445
Number of pages22
JournalArtificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing
Issue number4
Early online date4 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • Computer-Aided Design, Design Structure Matrices, Graph Theory, Metadata, Network Analysis


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