João Bigotte, and António Pais Antunes
A Facility Location Model For Elastic, Size-Attracted, Gravity-Type Demand
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Virtual product model
Abstract: "In the cosmos there are no complex laws which would govern some huge monolithic structures. But there obviously are particles/energies and there are some basic laws, which condition the interactions between the particles. Because there exist many combinations of particles the outcome of interactions are not simple to predict. Independently of this fact the many combinations exist and it seems that they form more and more complex structures, which are not very concerned about their own complexity.
More and more authors are recognizing the problem of modeling complex structures and many are asking themselves whether an all-including-product-model is a solution for an integrated information environment that should efficiently support the life-cycle of a product. It seems that rich experiences in product modeling in the last decade lead not to better and better models but rather to the awareness that the more complex the product models are, the more rigid and the less usable they become in reality. These recognitions already led to some suggestions for the future integration methods and product modeling.
The article introduces a concept of the virtual product model, a network of loosely coupled particle models, interconnected by relatively simple but strong rules (like gravity in the macro-cosmos). The neighborhood of a particle model is defined through a process model, which also determines relations between particles.
A special attention has been given to the content harmonization of particle models, which are representing parts of the virtual product model. The mechanism is based on harmonization agents, which are leaving the particles their individuality but also bind them to the whole.
The author also doubts about the possibility of ever using a single complex standard for structuring and describing structures of product models, especially in civil engineering and construction, where many different views have to be considered through a product life cycle. Again a bottom-up principle has been used to enable communication between harmonization agents, which share and extend their own knowledge about structures through common dictionaries.
Through the concept of the virtual product model it is believed that it is possible to preserve the independence and flexibility of particles - existing island models and applications (without implementing any interfaces) and the simplicity of mastering them, but also to preserve the positive integration effects of complex product models. The reason for this conviction lies in the simplicity of used principles and in their closer relation to natural mechanisms, which does not exclude implicit evolution."
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Permission to reproduce these documents have been graciously provided by Icelandic Building Research Institute. The assistance of the editor, Mr. Gudni Gudnason, is gratefully appreciated