This paper presents a method for assessing the quality of a progressive design process by measuring the profitability of the product that the process generates. The proposed approach uses separations, a type of problem decomposition, to model progressive design processes. The subproblems in the separations correspond roughly to phases in the progressive design processes. The proposed method simulates the choices of a bounded rational designer for each subproblem using different search algorithms. This paper presents a simple two-variable problem to help describe the approach and then applies the approach to assess motor design processes. Different types and versions of these search processes are considered to determine if the results are robust to the decision-making model. The results indicate that well-designed progressive design processes are the best way to generate profitable product designs. Methods for assessing the quality of engineering design processes can be used to guide improvements to engineering design processes and generate more valuable products.

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