Axiomatic Design Principles in the Context of Systems Engineering (Part 1)

Axiomatic design is the formalized process that allows for universal design axioms to be used by engineers for conceptualization and embodiment of designs. In order to accomplish axiomatic design, training is combined with design tools in order to create engineering specifications. By using tools such as design axioms, domain mapping, and systems modeling language, engineers can reduce design flow times while ensuring customer requirements are met to the greatest extent possible. Along with axiomatic design are other tools that allow for designers to adequately address stakeholder needs while maximizing the effectiveness of their product. This paper seeks to examine modern usage of these design tools and accomplish a review of literature on the topic.

Systems can be described as any collection of subsystems, software, hardware, and personnel designed to perform tasks to meet functional requirements. These functional requirements are subject to constraints which may be physical, informational, or environmental. Whenever considering system design, one must consider how complex the system is, how complex should the system interrelations be, and how to control the system such that it consistently achieves its functional requirements. Additionally, human-machine interaction must also be considered[1].

With the advancement of systematic design, concurrent engineering, and many other design methodologies has come a need for relating customer needs to design requirements. In the embodiment phase of systematic design, requirements and constraints must be determined [2]. By utilizing axiomatic design principles, customer requirements can be mathematically related to design parameters. This allows for an improved system for understanding customer requirements and ensuring that they are adequately met.

AM – Additive Manufacturing
CN – Customer Needs
DP – Design Parameters
ESM – Engineering System Matrix
FR – Functional Requirement
ICAD – International Conference on Axiomatic Design
INCOS – International Council on Systems Engineering
MBSE – Model-based Systems Engineering
SysML – Systems Markup Language
QFD – Quality Function Deployment
QKC – Qualitative Knowledge Construction
TRIZ – Theory of the Resolution of Invention-related Tasks

Axiomatic design is a formalized design methodology which makes use of universal engineering axioms to assist engineers in the creation of system [3]. Axioms, being universally applied concepts that are true without the burden of proof, are used in various engineering design systems.

Suh’s concept of axiomatic design axioms differs from other methodologies in that the axioms are simultaneously simple and powerful tools that drive functional requirements and design parameters. Suh believed that a design could be no better than the sum of its functional requirements [4]. In other methodologies (such as Hazelrigg’s axiomatic framework), axioms define self-evident principles strictly mathematically[5][6]. Instead, Suh sought to use two simple yet powerful axioms to drive manufacturing design towards an efficient solution.

Manufacturing systems are no longer immediately designed. Instead, they evolve from a series of design decisions that seeks to match customer requirements with functional requirements [7]. Axiomatic design seeks to codify this concept into a formalized process that allows for decisions to be produced because of rational design.

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