Strategies for the Curation of CAD Engineering Models
2008. ‘Strategies for the Curation of CAD Engineering Models.’ In: 4th International Digital Curation Conference: "Radical Sharing: Transforming Science?". Edinburgh. 1–3 December 2008..
Awarded best peer-reviewed paper at IDCC 2008. Paper later published in the International Journal of Digital Curation.
Within the engineering community, Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) – the management of product data across the enterprise – has become increasingly important over the last decade or so. There are several reasons for this development. The first is an increase in the globalisation of markets, resulting in collaborative practices in which product development, manufacture and maintenance occur in a geographically distributed and networked environment, with the result that much of the data relating to a particular product or artefact is dispersed over a number of organisations and locations. Secondly, there is an emerging economic and business paradigm shift in which companies that design and build products are increasingly being required to enter into contracts to provide through-life support – that is, products are no longer being purchased as artefacts, but rather as services. Consequently, PLM has gained prominence in the engineering, manufacturing, contracting and service sectors amongst others; it requires the efficient capture, representation, organisation, retrieval and reuse of product data over its entire life.
Simultaneously, there is now a much greater reliance on CAD models which have recently supplanted paper-based technical drawings and documentation as the main carriers of definitive product data. Within the last ten years or so, the engineering industry has gradually converted to using CAD models directly for communicating designs to manufacturers, builders, maintenance crews and regulators. This switch to creating the engineering record digitally, however, presents problems not only for its long-term maintenance and accessibility – due in part to the rapid obsolescence of the hardware, software and file formats involved – but also for recording the evolution of designs, artefacts and products.
We examine the curation and preservation requirements in PLM and suggest ways of alleviating the problems of sustaining CAD engineering models through the use of lightweight formats, layered annotation and the collection of Representation Information as defined in the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) Reference Model. We describe two tools which have been specifically developed to aid in the curation of CAD engineering models in the context of PLM: Lightweight Models with Multilayered Annotation (LiMMA) and a Registry/Repository of Representation Information for Engineering (RRoRIfE).