To adapt a product according to new customer needs, it is necessary to understand the reasons behind the design decisions that were made for the original product. In a new PhD thesis from School of Engineering, Jönköping University, Morteza Poorkiany presents methods to capture, structure and share design rationale during the product development process.
“Documenting the reasons and arguments behind design decisions is not a common practice for many industrial designers. This is something that a lot of manufacturers struggle with”, says Morteza Poorkiany. “I even interviewed one designer about a product that he had developed two years ago, and he didn’t remember all the reasons behind some of the decisions that he had made.”
Design rationale is an explanation of the reasons behind design decisions. Having access to this information is essential, especially when developing new variants of products to meet customers’ diverse needs. It also leaves the company less vulnerable when designers retire or change jobs.
Being able to generate a new variant of a basic design, that has been previously developed and proved, according to new customer’s demands, is a competitive factor for many manufacturing companies. To efficiently generate a new variant, understanding the intention and fundamentals of the design is essential, and having access to the design rationale can make that possible.
“What I have tried to do is to develop solutions to capture the design rationale from designers, and to classify and structure it”, says Morteza Poorkiany. “I have also studied how to share the design rationale to those who need it.”
Another important part of his research is to be able to use the design rationale in automated design systems. Design automation is an effective means of cutting costs and lead time for many design activities that don’t rely on creativity. Morteza Poorkiany has collaborated with two international manufacturing companies who have evaluated and given feedback on the methods and tools in his thesis.
Morteza Poorkiany successfully defended his PhD thesis Managing design rationale in the development of product families and related design automation systems on 15 December.