Research on key techniques of flexible workflow based approach to supporting dynamic engineering design process

  • Dongbo Wang

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Engineering design process (EDP) is a highly dynamic and creative process, and the capability in managing an EDP is considered as a major differentiating factor between competing enterprises. The most important prerequisite to establish an engineering design process excellence is a proper management of all the design process activities and the associated information. The most important impact in recent years on the EDP and on the activities of designers has come from computer-based data processing. Workflow, the automation of a business processes in whole or part, is a useful tool for modelling and managing a business process which can be reprensented by a workflow model (computerized process definition). By considering the dynamic characteristics of EDP, an EDP management system must be flexible enough to support the creative and dynamic EDP. After the introduction of engineering design process and its new trend, as well as flexible workflow technology, reviews of both engineering design process and its supporting flexible workflow technology shows that there is a need for a holistic framework to automate and coordinate design activities in the creative and dynamic EDP, and the flexible workflow technology should also be improved comprehensively in flexibility and intelligence in order to support better engineering design management. By introducing the relations between the EDP and flexible workflow, a virtual workflow and an autonomic flexible workflow built upon autonomic computing is investigated, and an innovative engineering design process management framework based on multi-autonomic objects flexible workflow is proposed. For the flexible workflow modelling in the framework, a dynamic instance-based flexible workflow modelling method is proposed for multi-autonomic objects flexible workflow. In order to improve the intelligence of flexible workflow, after examining the principle of flexible workflow intelligence in flexible workflow, a new flexible workflow autonomic object intelligence algorithm based on both extended Mamdani fuzzy reasoning and neural network is proposed, weighted fuzzy reasoning algorithm, as well as precise and fuzzy hybrid knowledge reasoning algorithm is designed; a bionic flexible workflow adaptation algorithm is proposed to improve the intelligence of autonomic object flexible workflow further. According to the characteristic of EDP, such as cross-enterprises and geographical distribution, and in order to realize the flexible execution of distributed flexible workflow engine, a distributed flexible workflow engine architecture based on web service is proposed and a flexible workflow model description method based on extended WSDL (Web Service Description Language) and BPEL4WS (Business Process Execution Language for Web Services) is proposed. A flexible workflow prototype system supporting engineering design process is implemented according to the proposed EDP management framework in Microsoft VS.Net 2005 environment. The framework is demonstrated by the application in an EDP of a MTO company, and it shows that the proposed framework can support the creative and dynamic process in an efficient way. Finally, the strengths and weakness of the framework as well as the prototype system is discussed based on the results of the evaluation, and the proposed areas of future work are given.
Date of Award27 May 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorXiu Yan (Supervisor) & William Ion (Supervisor)

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