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

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
437 Downloads (Pure)


Dealing with component interactions and dependencies remains a core andfundamental aspect of engineering, where conflicts and constraints are solved onan almost daily basis. Failure to consider these interactions and dependenciescan lead to costly overruns, failure to meet requirements and lengthy re-designs.Thus, the management and monitoring of these dependencies remains a crucialactivity in engineering projects and is becoming ever more challenging with theincrease in the number of components, component interactions and componentdependencies, both in a structural and functional sense.
For these reasons, tools and methods to support the identification and monitoringof component interactions and dependencies continues to be an activearea of research. In particular, Design Structure Matrices (DSMs) have beenextensively applied to identify and visualise product & organisational architecturesacross a number of engineering disciplines. However, the process of generatingthese DSMs has primarily used surveys, structured interviews and/ormeetings with engineers. As a consequence, there is a high cost associatedwith engineers’ time alongside the requirement to continually update the DSMstructure as a product develops. 
It follows that the proposition of this paper is to investigate whether an automatedand continuously evolving DSM can be generated by monitoring thechanges in the digital models that represent the product. This includes modelsthat are generated from Computer Aided Design (CAD), Finite Element Analysis(FEA), and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) systems. The papershows that a DSM generated from the changes in the product models corroborateswith the product architecture as defined by the engineers and results fromprevious DSM studies. In addition, further levels of product architecture dependencywere also identified. A particular affordance of automatically generatingDSMs is the ability to continually generate DSMs throughout the project. Thispaper demonstrates the opportunity for project managers to monitor emergingproduct dependencies alongside changes in modes of working between the engineers. The application of this technique could be used to support existing PLM change management solutions, cross-company product development and small to medium enterprises (SMEs) who do not have a PLM solution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-445
Number of pages22
JournalAI EDAM
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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