Development and maintenance of product configuration systems: Requirements for a documentation tool

Lars Hvam, Simon Pape Christensen, Klaes Ladeby Jensen, Jesper Riis

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Product configuration systems are increasingly applied to automate the configuration of complex products. A configuration system is an expert system designed to combine specified modules according to constraints. The constraints are stored as product data and rules in a product model, and one of the most essential tasks is thus to develop a complete and consistent product model which can reflect the actual product. A procedure for building configuration systems has been developed at the Centre for Product Modelling (CPM), and the procedure has been successfully applied in several industrial companies. CPM's experience with the procedure and the hitherto empirical experience from companies having applied the procedure have revealed that there is a need for an IT-based documentation tool to support the process of constructing and maintaining product configuration systems. Time can be saved by letting a documentation tool handle trivial time consuming tasks (notification on change, consistency check etc.), as a computer often handles these tasks in a better way. Thus, a serious bottleneck in the maintenance of configuration systems can be eliminated by applying Information System (IS) technology to support the documentation process. This paper deals with the requirement specification of a documentation tool for product configuration systems, based on CPM's procedure and experience from four Danish industrial companies which have applied the procedure. The requirements have been gathered and structured by using object-oriented system development techniques based on an analysis of the existing product configuration processes of the companies. The analysis was based on the procedure for building configuration systems as developed at CPM, and revealed several common requirements within the different companies. Significance: There is an actual need for a documentation tool for product configuration systems. The objective of the study is to identify and capture requirements of such a documentation tool, and serve as a basis for future design and implementation.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalInternational Journal of Industrial Engineering-Theory Applications and Practice
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)79-88
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


    • IT-based documentation system
    • object-oriented system development
    • product modelling
    • product configuration


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