On Specifying An Information Management Tool To Support Manufacturing Process Planning In Aerospace A Case Study
Proceedings of DETC’06
ASME 2006 Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
September 10-13, 2006, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
On specifying an information management tool to support manufacturing
process planning in aerospace: a case study
M.A.EL HANI*, Prof. L.RIVEST*, Ph.D., Prof. C.FORTIN**, Ph.D.
* École de Technologie Supérieure, Department of Automated Production Engineering
**École Polytechnique de Montreal, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Increasing product complexity and pressure to reduce time to market, manufacturing process planning
(MPP) engineers have to be able to quickly access reliable information in order to make swift and correct
decisions. Organizations therefore turn to information management tools, such as PLM, MPM and ERP, to
support their product development processes. These various information management tools compete by
offering some similar functionality, while MPP engineers have to manipulate multiple tools to access the
information they need.
This paper proposes to take a fresh look at a fundamental question: what are the specifications of an ideal
information management tool that would help MPP engineers efficiently define a manufacturing process plan
from the product definition. This paper thus presents the approach and the results of a research work
conducted within the process planning department of a manufacturing company operating in the aerospace
sector. The study was conducted so as to direct the effort toward documenting the MPP process and the
MPP engineer’s information needs. The approach that is presented primarily relies on a comprehensive
documentation and modeling of the MPP development process, which in turn offers a sound basis to
conduct an analysis of the MPP engineers’ information needs. This analysis next leads to the specifications
of a Dashboard solution aimed at MPP engineers.
Keywords: information management, manufacturing process planning, product development, process
modeling, Dashboard, IDEF0.
In the current industrial context, with increasing product complexity and pressure to reduce time to market,
efficient product change management has become a key challenge of product development. When defining
the manufacturing process for unreleased product data, process planning engineers have to handle a large
number of information. They thus have to be able to quickly access reliable information in order to make
swift and correct decisions. Organizations therefore turn to information management tools to support their
product development processes. These tools, such as PLM, MPM and ERP, evolved considerably over the
years, thanks to their editors’ effort to provide more functionality. As a result, many design organizations now
face a situation where various information management tools compete by offering some similar functionality,
while manufacturing process planning engineers have to manipulate multiple tools to access the information
they need (Figure 1). Moreover, when confronted to providing information management tools to their
manufacturing process planning activities, a basic approach used by manufacturing organizations focuses
on analyzing the commercially available tools mentioned above.
This research work is integrated within the framework of project called CRIAQ IP2CM-`Integrated Product-
Process Changes Management’. It aims to improve the propagation’s control of an engineering change on
manufacturing process planning. The reaching of this objective is strongly related to the following problem:
Few formal connections exist between the elements data to the manufacturing process planning, which
makes the synchronization of information difficult. Two principal approaches were developed by researchers
in order to solve these problems: 1) approach by features and 2) methodologies of integration. Mc Mahon
and Browne , Bronsvoort & Willem  developed concepts and methods to link features. Van Houten 
and  extends the concept of characteristics by the introduction of the concept of ULO (Unified Linking of
Engineering Objects) and the proposal of a new global taxonomy. The contribution of this last work was
circumscribed in a research goal, considering the complexity and the number of factors which can intervene
in a concrete context. The principal integration methodology which tacked our attention is that proposed by
Eversheim  and . It takes in account the business process and then it could be adopted in a concrete
and complex context. We took as a starting point the Eversheim’s approach, and then we extended it by
taking an account of the process planning businesses needs.
This research work was conducted from June 2004 to November 2005 within the process planning
department of a manufacturing company operating in the aerospace sector. The project had a scientific
objective as well as a more business-oriented objective. The scientific objective was to develop an
integration methodology of data integration in manufacturing process planning. The business-oriented
objective was to document and analyze the manufacturing process planning department in order to help
them to better understand their business needs. Most of the approach chosen to conduct the project allowed
achieving both objectives.
This paper focuses on the second objective. We try define the specifications of an ideal information
management tool that would help manufacturing process planning engineers efficiently develop a
manufacturing process plan for a given product definition. The study was conducted while voluntarily
disregarding the existing information management tools, so as to direct our effort toward documenting the
MPP process and the MPP engineer’s information needs. The approach chosen is presented in figure 2.
This paper presents the MPP business map. This map includes the process planning tasks carried out, from
reception of an engineering drawing to process plan validation. This map includes 80 activities and 50
deliverables. We next explain how and why the map was expanded to create an IDEF0 activity model of the
MPP. A quantitative analysis of the map and activity model is presented. Finally we expose the profile of the
resulting Dashboard solution.
Figure 1: PDM, MPM, ERP and MES tools coverage in product development
M.P.P.¹ business map documentation
M.P.P. business map analysis
requirements: need for a
M.P.P. activity modeling (IDEF0)
Quantitative analysis of M.P.P. map & IDEF0 model M.P.P¹. : Manufacturing process planning
Validation of the need
for a Dashboard
M.P.P. engineers’ information needs analysis
Dashboard profile elaboration
Figure 2: MPP information management tool specification approach
1- Process planning business map
The main actor of the MPP map documented in this study is the process planning department also named
New Part Planning or N.P.P. department. Its main task is to prepare and coordinate the development of
process plan folders named M.O.S (Manufacturing Operation Sheet) in accordance with the requirements of
the engineering department. The M.O.S is a folder composed of several operations sheet, which each one
of them represents a process plan. In this case study we are interested only on the parts which are in
development cycle called experimental parts.
The NPP department is composed of manufacturing process planners and team leaders. Starting with an
engineering drawing in preliminary release, the MPP engineers study, prepare and coordinate the realization
of all the documentation required to manufacture a part and to pilot the prototype manufacturing process
(Figure 3). Process planners also study and manage the integration of the engineering changes on the
M.O.S during the product development cycle. MPP team leaders manage and follow the MOS’s projects
developed by MPP engineers; they contribute their expertise when appropriate and ensure the respect of
the established deadlines. The NPP department interacts with representatives of multiples services involved
in the development process of the M.O.S, in order to document their roles and their interactions (information
exchanged between them) with the N.P.P.
1.2- Process map development
To obtain a high quality of process planning business map, we proceeded as follow: 1) identify the main
processes for the M.O.S development process (a reference process of the M.O.S development process for a
new part and a change management process during the M.O.S development process), 2) reduce the scope
of the business map by fixing assumptions in order to concentrate our effort on the important and
representative tasks 3) collect all the documentation of two representatives’ parts, 4) use a template during
the meeting with the different departments, which recapitulates received and generated technical
documentation as well as other information relative to their tasks, 5) build a preliminary version of each
process and revise it with the process planners so as to refine and validate.
Two principal processes were identified and targeted in this research project: 1) a reference process of the
M.O.S development process for a new part, and 2) a process showing how an engineering change
management is handled during the M.O.S development process. The latter was required to achieve our
scientific objective. Both were used to specify the Dashboard. The reference process is presented next.
Figure 3: N.P.P Role in part’s development process
1.3- Reference process of the M.O.S development process
Due to the important number of tasks and actors implied (80 tasks and 14 actors), presenting this process is
challenging. It was thus decided to break it up into six zones; each one representing a group of activities as
shown in figure 4. The left part of the figure above presents the principal actors implied in the development
Zone I: M.O.S folder order - As soon as the engineering drawing is available in preliminary version, the
engineering department sends a parts order to the A.M.P.C (Advanced Manufacturing Planning & Control),
which records it and transfers it to process planning as a preliminary D.R.A (Document Review Application)
document. Thus the I.P.T. (Integrated Product Team) studies the constraints related to part manufacturing
and communicates the results to the process planner as an I.P.T minutes document. The process planner
studies the order received (required time, tools, costs, etc.), establishes an estimate and sends the
completed D.R.A to A.M.P.C for recording. Once the I.P.T. decides to begin the development of the
manufacturing process, the process planner receives the agreement and prepares his manufacturing bill of
material as a preliminary P.S.S (Part Sourcing Structure) document.
Zone II: Process planning – It should be noted that this zone encompasses all the tasks made by the
process planner who is in continuous communication with all the actors; hence its description was
distributed and mentioned through the description of other zones.
Zone III: Configuration management - The process planner studies the manufacturing drawings (M.D)
requirements, sends requests for creation of M.D numbers to M.F.G. C.M. service, which attributes the M.D
numbers. The process planner next integrates the M.D numbers in the P.S.S document, validates (releases)
the structure and informs the drafting team to begin work on the M.D.
Zone IV: M.D. development - The planner establishes the global manufacturing process of the part and the
tolerance chart. For the parts requiring M.D., the drafting team receives the information from the process
planner, starts working on the M.D., and eventually sends the finished M.D for revision. The process planner
receives the M.D. comments it and mark it up, and then send the M.D. for update. The drafting team
receives the M.D. (with the mark-ups), makes the corrections and sends them back to the process planner
for approval. The M.D. release process proceeds at the same time, in order to record and to make them
available for all the actors of the process. The drafting team continues working on the remaining M.D.
Zone V: M.O.S development - As soon as some M.D. are released, the process planner creates and sends
requests for creation of M.O.S/F.I.R (First Inspection Report) folder (to M.O.S team), of tools (for tooling &
cutting tools team) so that they begin working on their deliverable. M.O.S team receives the request for
M.O.S/F.I.R folder and prepares the manufacturing operation sheets (M.O.S) based on the M.D. available or
the engineering drawing (for the parts not requiring an M.D.). If the remaining parts require M.D., work
follows their availability to complete the M.O.S., else it sends the M.O.S folder to the next service. As soon
as sheets of the M.O.S are available, the process planner sends requests for N.C programs. The N.C.
programming team receives the requests and develops the corresponding programs.
The tooling and cutting tool teams receive their requests, pilot the tooling design and drawing process, and
then manufacture the tools.
During the development of the deliverable associated to the M.O.S, the process planner and the implied
actors (M.O.S team, tooling team, cutting tools team and N.C programming team) communicate
continuously for explanations or resolving problems. Once a subset of M.O.S, corresponding N.C programs
and tools are ready, a tools and programs validation work is performed by the manufacturing service. The
process planner participates in this process in order to add additional information on the M.O.S sheets
related to the adjustments (setup). In some cases the operations sheets pass to the Special processes
service before validation begins.
As soon as the remaining M.D are ready, the process planner receives and validates them and sends the
remaining requests (to complete the remained deliverable) to the tooling team, cutting tools team and N.C
programming team. He then sends a request for creation of an F.I.R (First Inspection Report) document to
the M.O.S team which completes the M.O.S sheets as well as the F.I.R and sends the M.O.S/F.I.R to the
As soon as the process planner receives the M.O.S/F.I.R, start a correction and approval process, and then
sends the M.O.S/F.I.R to inspection team.
Zone VI: Part Manufacturing and MOS/FIR validation - The manufacturing service prints the M.O.S.,
manufactures the parts and records deviations as a Q.N (Quality Notification) and the sending with service
Q.R. (Quality Review). The inspection team receives the F.I.R, controls the part (based on the F.I.R),
records Q.N. and sends the F.I.R to the process planner for validation. Q.N. are collected by the Q.R service
(Quality Review) which is responsible of their management. The process planner receives the F.I.R., and
once all the Q.N. are closed (resolved) the F.I.R. passes thought a validation and approval process. This
information is communicated to the engineering which starts the process of engineering drawings release,
confirms that the M.O.S developed satisfies the engineering requirements and changes the engineering
drawing code (as a new released document). Thus the manufacturing service delivers the part to storage.
1.4- Change management process during the M.O.S development process
This process describes a change which affects the reference process .Several types of changes can exist.
For simplification reasons only the engineering changes are considered. This does not affect the
consistency of the results of our research sight that in case of engineering changes the studied field is more
In the majority of the cases engineering changes are communicated through modifications on the
engineering drawings (in certain cases they are communicated verbally). The zonal distribution for this
process is identical to the reference process.
Zone I - M.O.S folder order and impact study of engineering change: based on the new engineering
drawings, the engineering department sends a new parts order to A.M.P.C department which records and
transfers it to process planning as a new D.R.A document. Thus, the I.P.T. (Integrated Product Team)
studies the constraints related to the integration of engineering change and communicates the results to the
process planner as I.P.T minutes document. The process planner makes an impact study of the change on
the various deliverables of the reference process (new times required, tools, new costs,...) ( 8 ), establishes
a new estimate and send the new D.R.A completed to A.M.P.C for recording.
Continuation of the process: As soon as it receives the agreement, the process planner prepares his new
manufacturing bill of material as a preliminary P.S.S document (without manufacturing drawings (M.D)
numbers) and sends requests for creation or modification of M.D numbers to M.F.G. C.M. The continuation
of this process is identical the reference process described above, except that the different actors (M.O.S
team, tooling, N.C programming and special processes service) remake an impact study of the change on
their deliverable as soon as they receive the new requests.
By analyzing the processes described above, the development process of the M.O.S folder seems to be a
very complex work based on the knowledge and process planners appraises. As a result of our analysis, an
important conclusion can be tacked: due to the complexity of the M.O.S development process, the process
planners must have a clear vision of all the process in order to better carry out the change’s impact study.
Thus, a need for a solution that offers a centralized vision of all the process and a follow-up of all the
deliverables seems to be a better alternative that offer an improvements in the change’s impact study and its
integration. Although this need was validated with the different actors implied in the process, we chose to
make a thorough study of the M.O.S development process in order to more understand the process
planners’ needs, to give more scientific arguments and to prepare the ground for the proposed solution.
Thus we chose to use IDEF modeling techniques to build an activity (IDEF0) model, sight that offer a
thorough documentation of the manufacturing process planning activity.
2- MPP business map analysis
Analysis of the above process reveals that the MPP, which leads to the development of an M.O.S folder, is a
very complex process that heavily relies on the process planner expertise. As a result, an important
conclusion can be reached: the MPP process documentation confirms that the process planner would
benefit from a tool offering visibility of all the ongoing and coming tasks involved in an MOS development.
This tool would offer a centralized vision of all the tasks and deliverables involved in a MOS project. This
need was validated with the actors involved in the MPP process.
From this business process mapping, we next decided to conduct a more detailed study of the M.O.S
development process in order to develop a more precise understanding the process planners’ information
needs, to gather more scientific arguments and to prepare the ground for the proposed Dashboard solution.
Thus we chose to use IDEF modeling techniques to build an activity (IDEF0) model that would offer a
thorough documentation of the manufacturing process planning activity. This activity model is described in
3- Quantitative analysis
Within the framework of our research project, we introduced the concept of informational object (I.O) in order
to bring a common representation of all information included in the M.O.S development process.
According to Maurino , a technical object is a component of a product. It is used to structure the various
product views around only one concept. It can be a screw, a machined part, a mechanical assembly.
Based on the abstraction used by Maurino , the concept of informational object used within the framework
of this work aims to bring a common representation of all information relating to the product.
We define an informational object as any data, information, unit of information, formal or abstract knowledge,
document, a whole of documents, an electronic file, etc.
A quantitative analysis of the data was considered to be very important to make. This was performed in two
ways. We first established the variety of information tools (software or other tools) used by each tasks
included in the MPP business map. Next, for each mean (software or other tools) we calculated the number
of tasks that use it. As an exemple the SAP software is used by 35 tasks in the reference business map.
The data extracted from the reference business map and IDEF0 model allowed us to make two
representations as mentioned in the figure below. The IDEF0 model also documents an important volume of
manufacturing process planning information; we thus extracted all the informational objects included in the
model and associate to each one of them the software or other tool which contains it.
A great part of the informational inheritance of the quot;manufacturing process planningquot; is contained on quot;paperquot;,
which leads us to conclude that a very important field of the M.O.S development process still non covered by
any software application. The massive use of quot;paperquot; as means of work, the broad range of software tools
used, the significant number of tasks and actors in the M.O.S development process, confirm the process
planners’ needs towards a vision solution: quot;dashboardquot;
This analysis shows the significant number of tools used by the process planner during the M.O.S
development. This gives us an interest towards the development of a solution which offers a work
centralization and data access simplification.
Percentage of the tasks using the tool / Percentage of occupation in « I.O »
% of tasks / % of « I.O »
SAP Catia Excel Lotus Soft 1 Soft 2 Soft 3 Paper
Execution means / Information repository
Figure 5 Percentage of tasks using the means Vs percentage of occupation in quot;I.Oquot; of the information
4- Process planning business needs
The business maps as well as the IDEF0 model give us a good comprehension of the process planning
work. To refine our comprehension of the process planners needs a near look to what they want to have in
the solution seems to be important.
In order to define the “dashboard” solution profile, A global study was made near all the actors participating
in the M.O.S development process. Then a specific study was made near manufacturing process planner
and resulted to many functional needs. The needs was extracted through interviews supported by a
questionnaires elaborated in advance.
The principal users of the “dashboard” solution are manufacturing process planner, their team leaders,
engineering department and the actors participating in the M.O.S development process.
In more of the needs expressed by the users, and after acquiring knowledge of the manufacturing process
planning work as well as its software environment, we added others requirements to the quot;dashboardquot;
solution which offer more traceability relating to the development project.
5- Dashboard solution profile
Based on the manufacturing process planners’ business needs ( ), on the business maps and the IDEF0
model, it was useful to imagine a quot;dashboardquot; solution that meets this needs. This made it possible to
document the solution, which is at this stage a quot;PowerPoint prototype (static). The objective aimed by
making this prototype is to validate the idea of the quot;dashboardquot;, to concretize the manufacturing process
planners’ needs and to capture the maximum of comments (forces and weaknesses of the solution) in order
to eliminate uncertainties (needs badly included/understood). Thus this prototype gives a global idea of the
solution, its graphic interface and the principal functionalities. It will be used as support for a future
development of the solution or for the acquisition of existing solution on the market. Due to the significant
number of needs expressed by the process planners, two principal processes (representative) were selected
to be used as a basis for construction of the prototype: 1) develop an M.O.S and 2) modify an M.O.S.
The figure 5 gives an outline of an interface of the quot;dashboardquot; solution. The higher panel of the interface
entitled quot;descriptionquot;, highlights information of the part identification as well as contacts information of the
principal actors in the project. The left panel entitled quot;Documents listquot; present the list of all the documents
generated by the process planner as well as their respective statutes. From this panel the process planner
could create, import or modify its deliverable. The medium panel entitled quot;Task listquot; contains the list of the
principal tasks of process planning during the M.O.S development. This list is updated automatically with the
deliverable statutes of the process planner or manually. Considering the number of tasks to be made, this
list is used as support for the process planner who has the possibility of adding or removing tasks. The right
panel entitled quot;Dashboardquot; gathers the windows of all the actors in the process, from which the process
planner could reach in centralized way desired information. These windows represent a bond towards
information of follow-up which the process planner needs. As an example, if the process planner wants to
follow the tooling department deliverables which are associated the part number mentioned in top-left of the
interface, it can make a zoom in the corresponding window and it has all the interface of the application
associated which opens to enable him making the desired tasks. Once finished, he returns to the principal
interface. The left bottom panel of the interface entitled quot;communicationsquot; represents a window of
communication which is used to gather all the communications relative to a given project in a centralized
manner. This will offer a better centralization and information’s traceability.
The approach proposed and the resulting specifications of the Dashboard presented in this paper could be
used as a solution path by manufacturing organizations wishing to implement information management tools
in order to achieve their business goals.
Drafting Zone IV
All the M.D are available
Zone I : M.O.S folder order
Zone II : Process planning
Zone III : Configuration management
Zone IV : M.D development
Zone V : M.O.S development
Zone VI : Part Manufacturing and MOS/FIR
Figure 4 Zonal decomposition of the M.O.S reference process
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