Eliab Z. Opiyo


Process planning is part of the general product development and production process that usually follows design and
precedes manufacturing. Manufacturability and process planning information in general play central role in many
product development and production activities, including paradoxically, conceptual and detail design - the activities
that take place before process planning. The need of conducting some of the process planning activities formally
before or during design is thus rather obvious. One of the main research issues is therefore the identification of the
process planning activities that can be performed before the traditional process planning phase and handling of the
process planning information so as to adequately provide the designers with the manufacturability information
needed during conceptual and detail design. Another issue is how to support collaboration during process planning
and how to maintain continuity of the process planning tasks. This paper suggests the decentralization of the process
planning task and proposes the execution of the process planning activities in a piecemeal fashion, starting right after
receiving an order and specifying the requirements for a product. Process planning under the proposed procedure
consists of six semi-autonomous sub-phases, some of which comprise activities that must be conducted prior to the
process planning phase. This helps to overcome the problem of timely availability of manufacturability information
during the execution of upstream and downstream product development and production activities. The paper also
proposes a computer-based method of handling the manufacturability information generated in various stages of the
product development and production process. A database design and structure of prototype software that manages
the process planning information are presented and discussed. Furthermore, a case study conducted to explore how
the proposed process planning procedure could be put in use is presented and discussed.

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