Abstract

This paper analyzes the information environment of a product development program in a manufacturing enterprise as a domain in which intelligent agents can facilitate coordination. The information environment refers to information accessed, shared and generated in a product development program. The analysis suggests a structure for defining agents and agent interactions, and clarifies coordination needs in the context of the product development process. An architecture of intelligent agents embedded in a coordination environment is proposed as a means of providing infrastructure and process support to product development. The process of extension of requirements, and the selection and parametric refinement of handbook design solutions of a relief valve is used to illustrate the analysis and architecture for coordination in product development. The functional requirements identified for product development coordination are: (a) explicit representation of development team perspective and product model aspect definitions and mappings among them, (b) encapsulation of views and changes of the product models by intelligent agents, and (c) management of scenarios of interaction between perspectives through their agents. Representation of the dynamics and hierarchy in product development environments is outlined.

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