Unified Interdisciplinary Methodology for Concurrent and Collaborative Engineering in Chemical Process Industry

  • Author / Creator
    Xie, Yanan
  • Chemical process engineering projects are complex and multi-disciplinary, requiring collaboration of different domains, such as business project management, chemical process, mechanical, electrical, and instrument with specific computer-aided tools. Current research on semantic interoperability is still domain specific. The lack of interoperability across domains remains a big issue in industry practice. The industrial demand for systematically managing the information generated throughout the lifecycle of engineering processes and associations across disciplines imposes a great research challenge. Rather than exchanging documents from one department to another, such as the chemical process department to the mechanical one, this research proposes an interdisciplinary engineering methodology based on a unified informatics approach to develop a systematic technology for supporting chemical process project lifecycle. Semantic characteristics of information entities and flows across chemical and mechanical engineering domains, and the implicit associations, are discussed. The similarity between the two disciplines inspires a unified engineering framework. Under this framework, two categories of new features that can be identified from commonly-observed chemical engineering processes, associative chemical process features and inter-domain functional features, are modeled. Related to those traditional product-related features in the mechanical engineering domain, the above two sets of features offer new mechanisms to support a multi-disciplinary and feature-based chemical process modeling system. Based on the proposed feature models, interdisciplinary engineering information association mechanisms are constructed. Such interdisciplinary engineering associations are explicitly expressed and systematically managed by constraint models. Hence, the feature associations are well-maintained along the project life cycle. A mechanism is then developed to dynamically construct feature parameter association map, which provides context association information among engineering entities. Based on the generated map, a well-controlled, incremental and dynamic engineering change propagation method is proposed to assist engineers with an intelligent change propagation solution. This proposed unified engineering methodology offers a solution of comprehensive and feature-based system modeling for real-world complex problems of system integration and interoperability, and hence, is capable of supporting engineering collaboration across disciplines. The insights gained by this research work also add to the growing understanding of relationships among engineering design in separate disciplines. Implementation of a prototype system based on feature definition and consistency maintenance mechanisms leads to a collaborative engineering platform for the chemical process design, which provides a feature-based modeling to explicitly represent characteristics of engineering significance as well as such associations. Thus information sharing is facilitated, while the feature models and constraints are all systematically managed. The prototype of applications of the proposed features shows the effectiveness towards consistency and efficiency improvement for chemical engineering informatics modeling. The mechanism proposed is capable of maintaining a consistent design through the life cycle of the chemical process project, and hence, the efficiency can be potentially improved by reducing the tedious revision work led by inconsistent design.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Yongsheng Ma
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Doucette, John (Mechanical Engineering)
    • Xue, Deyi (Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, University of Calgary)
    • Ma, Yongsheng (Mechanical Engineering)
    • Lipsett, Michael (Mechanical Engineering)
    • De Klerk, Arno (Chemical and Materials Engineering)