LOCM: Where are we now?

During the project we have published more than 40 peer reviewed articles, given numerous presentations and attended a number of national and international exhibitions. Thus, from the perspective of metrics, the project can be considered to have been a great success. But this is not the only perspective to consider. Perhaps the most important one is the positive impact it has had on those involved. In this regard, we have seen two promotions – Dr Watts and Professor Newnes; four new lecturers – Drs Gopsill, Snider, Jones and Joel-Edgar; and four post-docs move into industry – Drs Boa, Emanuel, Shi and Mogles. In addition, this project was for two of our investigators their final major research activity prior to retirement – Professors McMahon and Culley who are both now busier than ever!

Further, while not explicitly follow-on projects the LoCM project has informed and fed into two major new projects:

  • EP/R032696/1 – Improving the product development process through integrated revision control and twinning of digital-physical models during prototyping
  • EP/R013179/1 – Designing the Future: Resilient Trans-Disciplinary Design Engineers

And, it is great to observe that many  of the members of the LoCM project team are now involved in these projects and that the early career academics are establishing their own portfolios and teams. All-in-all a very productive and enjoyable 5 years and a big thank you from me and the whole team to everyone involved and our industrial partners.

If you would like to get in touch with members of the team please contact us through the laboratories at the Universities of Bristol and Bath. Links below.

Design and Manufacturing Futures Laboratory – http://www.dmf-lab.co.uk

Advanced Design and Manufacture @ Bath – http://www.bath.ac.uk/mech-eng/research/advanced-design-and-manufacturing/

LoCM: What have we learnt?

At the outset of the project we hypothesised that we would be able to monitor the evolving digital footprint (emails, reports and models) in order to diagnose and recommend interventions to improve the management of large engineering projects, essentially adding an automated feedback and control loop. So how far did we get? In short, we investigated and characterised the potential inferencing power from the evolving digital footprint; created a suite of algorithms and tools that enable the monitoring of engineering work, project progress and project states; and created dashboards that enabled project managers to drill-down and roll-up through the data to help identify root cause; and, of particular importance to our industrial collaborators, allowed project stakeholders to monitor the impact of the interventions that they had made.

So, did we achieve our initial aim? Yes, but with the important caveat that rather than automating the process of making recommendations or interventions we provide the information and means to interrogate the information in support the professional judgement of the project managers. This approach is consistent with the aim of transforming project managers into evidence-based hypothesis testers where they can explore correlations, changes and the impact of their interventions. While seemingly obvious post facto, such an approach is likely as far as we can go due to the variation in context and situatedness of major engineering – i.e. they are largely one-off and each project is undertaken within a different political, environmental, social and technical context.

Lastly, it is important to note that this project and all of its outputs are intended to support the existing project management toolsets through the provision of real-time information about the project and engineering work. We have shown that additional highly valuable management information can be generated from the evolving digital footprint and characterised the possible inferencing power. For detailed information on proxies, analytics and dashboards please refer to our publications. Alternately, please get in touch with us.