In the automotive industry the activities of documenting the design options and generating the necessary request for quotations, for Tier 1 system suppliers to be awarded contracts for design and development, is complex and time-consuming since these activities are predominately manual and paper-based. Thus, a knowledge-based tool is being developed to aid the selection of the design options for vehicle systems during competitive tendering. The tool is based on ontologies in order to provide a common and shared definition for the options available for a given vehicle system. An overview of this approach is provided and, as a ‘proof of concept’, a case study involving seating systems is presented. This paper shows, through the seating system case study, how the functionalities and features of a vehicle system can be selected and documented in order to streamline the business process of contracting out product development through the supply chain.

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