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Paper w78-2010-31:
Configuration and Design Automation of Industrialised Building Systems

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Thomas Olofsson, Patrik Jensen, Anders Ronneblad

Configuration and Design Automation of Industrialised Building Systems

Abstract:Construction companies in Sweden have for many years been moving work from site to factories, especially in the timber housing industry. Also, these factories are installing more and more automated production lines calling for better integration between design and production. So far, design tools in the construction industry have often been developed without the possibility of parameterization, design automation or direct connections with Computer Numeric Control (CNC) and do not integrate easily with other tools used by different disciplines. Much of recent research has been focused on improving the information flow in the traditional building process by focusing on interfaces between discipline specific analysis and design software. Also, the constraints imposed by the developed building systems cannot not be easily transferred ‘upstream’ the design process. This paper aims to investigate the management of information flow between architects, engineering and production in the design of industrialized building systems. Furthermore, the possibilities of parameterization and design automation is investigated for the implementation of rules and constraints imposed by the building system in design tools used by architects and engineers with the purpose of reducing non-compatible design solutions and to integrate the information flow with the engineering and production process. First, building systems are classified according to customer order decoupling point in the product specification process. Building systems classified as configure-to-order or select-variant are suitable candidates for implementing configuration systems. Then, the information flow is demonstrated in the configuration of a timber floor slab. It is concluded that the engineering design can be automated to a large extent using configuration tools if the architectural design obey the rules imposed by the building system. Also, the amount of data transferred between architect and engineer is reduced since much of the information and knowledge is transferred into formal computer interpretable knowledge.

Keywords:Building system, design automation, information flow, parameterization and constraint based design

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