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Towards facades as Make-To-Order products – the role of Knowledge-Based-Engineering to support design

Jacopo Montali, Mauro Overend, P. Michael Pelken, Sauchelli Michele


Building façades are Engineer-To-Order (ETO) products and, as such, they show unique features on a project-by-project basis. The partitioning of design tasks during the design and manufacturing process of these products, however, does not fully capture how specific design decisions influence other stakeholders’ choices. This lack of design integration is most severe at early stages when a large proportion of initial costs, mostly driven by manufacturability aspects, is determined. This paper illustrates a methodology to build Knowledge-Based Engineering (KBE) applications to support early-stage design integration through the development of a façade Product Model for automatic rule checking and knowledge reuse. The main outcome is a preliminary framework for developing knowledge-based, digital tools to support and integrate façade design as well as different scenarios in which the tool can potentially be used, based on two types of procurement methods. A prototype of the tool is also shown here. The paper proposes a new paradigm where façade systems are considered to be more closely related to Make-To-Order types, rather than ETOs, in which the product is ready for fabrication and designers can rapidly explore the subcontractor’s manufacturing capabilities and the implications of their design choices. Future work will include tool validation by applying the tool into a specific façade manufacturer’s workflow.


façade design, design automation, product configuration, knowledge-based engineering, manufacturability.

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