For over twenty years, the engineering world has been dominated by Computer Aided Engineering - CAD/CAE. It is now predicted that KBE, and supporting technologies such as ‘solid modelling’ and ‘analytical prototyping’, will become the prime means of industrial product design and development by 2010.
The University has formed a partnership with US-based leader in Knowledge Based Engineering (KBE), TechnoSoft Inc, to offer UK-Industry access to world-leading engineering design software. This has brought KBE resources within reach of the most modest UK manufacturer. Birmingham City University’s one-day conference will reveal the concept in detail, explaining the surprising extent of its applications and engineering design benefits. The event is free of charge, however advance booking is essential.
The University’s exclusive TechnoSoft agreement, enables Craig Chapman’s KBE-team to offer every size and type of company access to innovative design software environments. These are able to capture, model and employ all the knowledge within a company and integrate fully with any existing computer-aided engineering tools used. Craig Chapman says: “KBE is a significant means of releasing and empowering the UK’s engineering expertise to innovate and take entrepreneurial initiatives, instead of being on the defensive when competing in global markets.”
Peter Rayson, the University’s Associate Director of TIC - himself a product development expert - describes the effect of using Knowledge Based Engineering: “The over-used term ‘advanced design solution’ is for once true. KBE drastically reduces product design timescales. It enables users to capitalise on the entire body of a company’s knowledge. Just like DNA in living things, it makes product design and development an easier, smoother and much faster evolutionary process.”
Cincinnati-based TechnoSoft has become global KBE-leader through involvement as prime information technology outsourcing service to multiple US organisations. These included major manufacturers, government departments and utilities. Emphasising the value of KBE, Birmingham City University’s Craig Chapman says: “The engineer never needs to go back on a successful design or system. KBE enables swift development of designs, from bottles to battleships; from medical procedures to military operations by ensuring all the company’s existing knowledge can be referred to, and incorporated into, the new design process.”
The University’s ‘open’ conference will show how KBE software works ‘intelligently and dynamically’ using all the knowledge encapsulated, not only in an original design, but also in how it actually operates. This results in what is known as a ‘common computational model’, the hub of all knowledge about that design.
Craig Chapman says: “When developing a product, the common computational model dynamically generates itself, based not only on functional needs, but also on basic issues such as quality, cost and delivery. Additionally, when a system is used in a new application, KBE automatically adapts all the components to meet the new requirements.”
As the hybrid approach to engineering design and manufacturing sees them becoming embedded as just part of a product’s whole life-cycle, KBE can take full account of the entire process. Craig adds: “With manufacturing industry tending to lose out to low-cost producers, KBE enables us to innovate faster to ensure the UK can get ahead of the game and stay there.”
The University’s KBE team claims leadership in its UK adoption and is in discussion with a range of major organisations. However, it is especially keen to ensure SMEs can find out how they can benefit and gain significant competitive advantage.
Craig Chapman concludes. ”KBE’s influence on the whole product and process lifecycle rapidly reduces time-to-market by capturing vital engineering knowledge and using less resource. This frees engineers to plough ahead with more significant, value-adding innovative work, enabling UK companies to capture new markets.”