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1.0 Thesis Project Introduction

This project looks to investigate and assess the philosophy behind concurrent engineering. Its main aims and objectives are set out here to provide the reader with a brief gauge as to the reports' direction.

The project's main aim is to analyse and evaluate an existing product delivery process, and compare it with principles from concurrent engineering, with a view to making recommendations towards bringing it closer to concurrent engineering concepts.

In support of this statement there are a number of objectives which will help in achieving the aim, providing a basic framework to work within. The methods of achieving them are discussed later in this section:

  1. Research and understand concurrent engineering principles.
  2. Investigate and analyse the existing Rank Xerox product delivery system.
  3. Analyse the two processes.
  4. Identifying areas of possible improvements, and how they might be implemented.

1.1 Expanding Upon the Objectives.

1.1.1 A Concurrent Engineering Based Process.

It was the author's objective to gain an understanding of the principles of concurrent engineering, with special attention paid to its uses in the product delivery process. The processes and tools described in this submission drew upon many sources in order to provide an unbiased datum to which the RX technique could be held and compared. Sources used included theoretical papers, CD-ROM's, books, journals, expert knowledge and published case studies of concurrent engineering systems implemented in companies around the world. These are referenced in the relevant places, the reference list appearing at the rear of this submission. Although the basis of many elements of concurrent engineering can be conceptually based, the author has made attempts wherever possible to keep these sections measurable in comparison to the other process, and based in a practical setting. This process was then discussed with academic and industrial figures familiar with concurrent engineering. The sections which cover the concurrent engineering concept are categorised thus:

  • Team Membership and Structure;
  • Common Product Information Bases (e.g. Databases);
  • Computer Aided Engineering [CAE] tools;
  • Management Philosophy and Implementation.

1.1.2 The Rank Xerox Product Delivery Process [PDP].

This is an analysis and assessment of the Rank Xerox PDP system, employed by that company to bring machines to market quicker and easier, be they new blank paper designs or re-design/cost-downs. To provide examples where required for this thesis, two programmes were studied and followed through to launch, (known herein as product programmes 'Alpha' and 'Beta') and it is these which have proved the source of information regarding the illustration of certain aspects of the PDP process. The information for these sections of the report was gathered in many ways, all of which are exploded-up in their own sections; generally these included several visits to the Rank Xerox UK Manufacturing and Supply Site at Mitcheldean near Gloucester, electronic mail, telephone conversations, facsimile communication and analysis of process documentation.

1.1.3 The Comparison of Processes.

As has been mentioned, the two processes, once identified and analysed, were then discussed against each other mainly using the concurrent engineering categories highlighted in Chapter 1.1.1. Where further breakdown has been required, analysis of the two processes was achieved through three factors: human, technology and methodology

[Appendix C: The Three Resources], a technique used by the Digital Equipment Corporation. These areas, and the ways in which they interact and set one another up, allow for a focus to be achieved with which to make the comparisons. The points and issued raised also went to help form the discussions and suggestions which satisfied the overall aim of this thesis.

1.1.4 Sources.

Much of the information gathered for the Xerox based sections of this report comes from official company documents, some of which are not for public usage. They include process usage guides, company policy documents and example process documents. Also, the author conducted several on-site excursions to Rank Xerox's Mitcheldean production site to talk with project staff there. The author also spent his placement year at that establishment in the production engineering department, working on a new product to the site, and worked it through from pilot builds to production and launch as a part of the product team.

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