|Information Integration for Concurrent Engineering (IICE)|
The purpose of the IICE program was to build the engineering foundations, Integration Definition (IDEF) methods and tools, and migration frameworks for next-generation engineering, manufacturing, and logistics environments. These technologies were developed and demonstrated as part of a large-scale process improvement effort at one of the Air Force’s largest maintenance and remanufacturing facilities: the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center (OC-ALC).
IICE program accomplishments include milestone achievements in integration science and practice and the establishment of a scaleable approach for evolving today’s engineering, manufacturing, and logistics enterprises toward new levels of integration among people, information, and machines.
Specific areas of development undertaken through the IICE program are summarized in the following list.
- Methods to support the full range of systems development, including analysis, design, and implementation. Specific methods support explicit representation of the structure and logic of business processes (IDEF3), object-oriented design (IDEF4), ontology development (IDEF5), and business constraint capture (IDEF9).
- Integration tools and environments to support the design, development, maintenance, and evolution of integrated systems.
- Formal theories to account for the nature of information and the theoretical and practical limits of integration.
- Ontologies that explore the extent to which knowledge can be captured and shared across domains and disciplines.
- Application demonstrations to establish the utility of emerging IICE technologies and to mature them for practical use.
New methods developed under the IICE program represent the most visible products of this effort. The following descriptions provide a brief overview of the most mature methods produced under IICE.
IDEF3--Process Description Capture
The IDEF3 Method provides a general procedure for successfully capturing process knowledge. This is coupled with an expressively powerful graphical language to display the structure and logic of a system. IDEF3 is used to document, analyze, and develop the vital processes of an existing or proposed system. In business environments, the IDEF3 method has several important uses.
- Identify previously obscure process links between organizations.
- Identify redundant and/or non-value-added activities.
- Improve the speed and economy of processes.
- Speed the efficiency and effectiveness of new worker training.
- Facilitate manpower planning and personnel loss impact studies.
- Capture irreplaceable process knowledge prior to personnel losses and shifts.
- Raise awareness of external customer needs and the business-sustaining processes that service those needs.
IDEF4--Object Oriented Design
IDEF4 was developed for component-based client/server systems and provides a bridge between domain analysis and implementation. It supports a smooth transition from the application domain to the design. By specifying sufficient detail for design objects, source code generation is enabled. The IDEF4 Method employs a multi-dimensional approach to object-oriented software system design and consists of: (1) design layers, (2) artifact design status, (3) design, (4) models, (5) design rationale, and (6) design features.
IDEF5--Ontology Description Capture
An ontology is a domain vocabulary together with a set of precise definitions, or axioms, that sufficiently constrain the meanings of the terms in that vocabulary to enable consistent interpretation of statements using vocabulary. IDEF5 is an ontology description capture method that provides a structured approach for the development of usable, highly accurate domain ontologies. Knowledge acquisition with IDEF5 is enabled by the direct capture of assertions about real-world objects and their interrelationships in an intuitive and natural form. The main concepts of IDEF5 are kinds, properties, attributes, and relations.
IDEF9--Business Systems Constraint Discovery
IDEF9 is a method for business systems constraint discovery. The primary focus of IDEF9 is identification of the constraints that are operative in business systems or processes above the shop floor. In IDEF9, a constraint is defined as a relationship that is maintained as true in a given context. IDEF9 is used to:
- discover business practices and policies that the business system maintains,
- provide knowledge that will be useful in improving processes, and
- The IDEF9 method provides an analyst/modeler enough leverage to seek continuous improvement systematically by discovering, analyzing, prioritizing, and refining the constraints.
Application Demo: IDEF3 Process Modeling
Several specific demonstration efforts accomplished through the IICE program are of unique significance because of their extensive use of the methods, tools, and integration environments developed under IICE. Following is an example of the many successes realized through IICE.
KBSI provided training, consulting, and technical support at the OC-ALC to apply the IDEF3 Process Description Capture method in an ALC-wide process mapping and improvement effort. Nearly 70 individual process mapping efforts were successfully completed using IDEF3 to document and explore improvement opportunities for both administrative and production processes. The subject areas explored spanned nearly every business segment of the ALC, including workload planning, material acquisition, inventory management, shop scheduling, manufacturing process planning, purchase order processing, two-level avionics maintenance, engineering data management, programmed depot maintenance, and technical order management.
Working together with Center personnel, KBSI was able to significantly reduce costs and streamline processes by enabling the OC-ALC personnel to blueprint and evaluate candidate process designs electronically. Now, with over 300 Center personnel having been trained in IDEF3 and PROCAP® and PROSIM®, KBSI’s IDEF3-based process modeling and simulation support tools, the OC-ALC continues to use IDEF3 as its de facto standard for ongoing Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) and Business Process Reengineering (BPR) efforts. The demonstrated capabilities of IDEF3, the KBSI staff, and KBSI’s tools later motivated the OC-ALC to purchase a site license for PROSIM®.
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