Knowledge-Based Engineering in the design for manufacture of prefabricated façades: current gaps and future trends

02 Oct 2017

The use of prefabricated façades provides a timely means to increase efficiency in the delivery of buildings, while maximising the expected environmental service performance. In order to achieve high performance and low cost, these products require manufacturability and supply chain knowledge to be integrated earlier than usual in the design process. Knowledge-Based Engineering (KBE) applications can potentially fulfil this need by providing a digital Product Model that informs designers about manufacturability aspects and expected performance. This paper explores the currently-available digital tools, as well as KBE and its applicability in façade design. It is first demonstrated that there is a fundamental gap in state-of-the-art digital tools: rather than integrating design principles and manufacturing constraints, existing and emerging tools continue to focus on single-disciplines with no consideration for the actual manufacturing stage. The applicability of KBE is then evaluated by reviewing the current use of this approach in the building and other industries, namely, aerospace and shipbuilding. It is found that, although KBE is rarely used in facade design, there are significant opportunities for it to be applied in this sector, due to the similarity in terms of design tasks and priorities with the two other industries reviewed in this paper.