The effective use of computer based tools to support decision making in manufacturing industry is critical to business success. One of the most critical areas is during product design and especially in design for manufacture. This research will help in understanding of how manufacturing knowledge can be effectively maintained for an existing knowledge base. The work will use modern product lifecycle management tools in combination with a knowledge based environment in order to explore the effectiveness of the methods produced.
This work is a part of the SAMULET (Strategic Affordable Manufacturing in the UK through Leading Environmental Technologies) research program and was done in association with an aerospace manufacturing company. The main focus of this research is to define a novel method for maintaining the machining knowledge associated with manufacturing of Xtra Wide Body (XWB) High Pressure (HP) turbine blade. The four main elements explained in this thesis are, a) the literature review done on knowledge management and knowledge maintenance, b) industrial investigation done on a manufacturing facility, c) detailed explanation of a novel manufacturing knowledge maintenance method d) four iterative case studies used for the evaluation and iterative improvement of the method.
The research concludes that the aspect of knowledge maintenance is important. It is imperative to set out a formalised and mandated knowledge maintenance process in an organisation to keep the knowledge up-to-date and relevant. It has been shown that a novel task based knowledge maintenance method comprising a Knowledge Maintenance Process (KMP) and a Knowledge Maintenance Template (KMT) provides an effective route to knowledge maintenance. Three maintenance tasks, check relevancy, knowledge filtering, and integrity checking have been considered in detail for successful knowledge maintenance. Four iterative case studies have been conducted for the experimental evaluation of the maintenance method. As the result of these evaluations a novel method for maintaining the machining knowledge of XWB HP turbine blade was defined.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.