What’s the Challenge?

Today’s products are so advanced in terms of their materials, form, construction, control and drive systems that they require expertise and resource that extends beyond the reach of even the world’s largest organisations. The challenge of managing large, highly distributed, high value projects is of considerable concern to industry. This is not only because of the recent spate of high profile cost overruns, delivery setbacks and collapsed projects, but also because of aspects of leakage of intellectual property, exposure to risk, and difficulties capturing design records, lessons learned, decisions and rationale.

Why Engineering Projects?

Engineering projects of the sort previously described are critically dependent upon two key toolsets. These are electronic communication tools (e.g. email) and digital objects (reports, CAD models and simulations). Engineers around the globe communicate electronically in order to create and evolve digital objects which are the basis for the design, manufacture, assembly, delivery and maintenance of products and machines. It is this relationship and co-evolution of communication and digital objects that lies at the heart of every engineering project, embodying not only the engineering work itself but also control of intellectual property, decision making, rationale and problem solving. Thus this research project is about understanding, supporting and improving the relationship and co-evolution of communication and digital objects, to enable the improvement of the management, control and performance of engineering projects.

The Vision

The vision of this research will be realised through a suite of tools and techniques that embody new methods and approaches for capturing and analysing the content and evolution of engineering communication and digital objects, and new methods and approaches for generating, representing, interacting with, and interpreting what are defined as signatures of communications and digital objects. The term ‘signature’ is used to represent a meaningful relationship between one or more dimensions of communication and/or digital objects at a point in time or over a period of time.

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