Adaptable product is the one that can be adapted, such as reconfigured and upgraded, during the operation stage to satisfy different requirements. Development of adaptable products can bring with both economic and environmental benefits. Adaptable design is a design paradigm that can be used for the design of adaptable products. Since quality of adaptable product can be influenced by parameter variations caused by uncertainties, product robustness has to be considered in adaptable design. This research aims at developing an adaptable design approach such that the product is adaptable to various changes in requirements, meanwhile the functional performance measures are the least sensitive to parameter variations. In this research, robust adaptable design at three levels in the embodiment design stage is considered: parameter, configuration, and architecture levels.
At the parameter level, an adaptable product can be achieved through the changes of parameter values. In this research, product/operating parameters are classified into four categories: un-adaptable design parameters, adaptable design parameters, unchangeable non-design parameters, and changeable non-design parameters. Mathematical models are established to describe the relationships among functional performances, product/operating parameters, and variations of both performances and parameters. An optimization model is also developed to identify the optimal values of un-adaptable design parameters.
At the configuration level, an adaptable product can be achieved through the changes of product configurations. In this research, different configuration candidates in design and different product configurations in operation stage to satisfy design requirements are modeled by a hybrid AND-OR tree. Parameters associated with configurations are also modeled in this AND-OR tree. A two-level optimization method is developed for identifying the optimal design configuration and its parameter values.
At the architecture level, an adaptable product can be achieved through selection of the open architecture as the product architecture. In this research, characteristics of open architecture products are investigated. Methods for the modeling of platform, add-on modules, and open interfaces are developed. A multi-level optimization method is also developed to identify the optimal design of the open architecture products considering both product performance and variation of the performance.