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id ddss9449
authors Kendall, Stephen
year 1994
title Control of Parts: Identifying Patterns of Control in Production Chains
source Second Design and Decision Support Systems in Architecture & Urban Planning (Vaals, the Netherlands), August 15-19, 1994
summary If we examine the stages of production of complex physical systems, we notice that parts change as they progress along a value chain. Parts are deformed, have parts removed, and are assembled and disassembled, in various sequences. In such processes, production operations (milling, cutting, aligning, attaching, and so on) are of particular interest, as are the sequences of production, since some operations and sequences have been found to be more efficient than others, lead to fewer mistakes and produce higher quality results. Research continues to be produced seeking to optimize production operations, sequences and product quality. The production operations we can observe in the making of artifacts are also of interest because they are by definition the result of action taken by certain agents. Parts are changed or controlled by human beings, employing their own hands or sophisticated machines. Today, we are used to making a distinction among agents involved in production: some agents specify what is to be made, and others make what is specified. One agent can do both, but specialization and division of labour has presented us with this distinction. This is now conventional, aside from whether it is "good" or not. The distinction is the basis for the interest in "concurrent design and production of products", the renewed focus on distribution and coordination of work in teams, and the related interest in understanding the dynamics of building systems in terms of the agents who control them. This paper focuses on the place certain kinds of agents take in complex production flows. Since production of parts is both a technical and a social enterprise, we will discover, when we look closely, complex webs of interactions which can be mapped, showing how agents relate to each other through the parts with which they are concerned. In examining the class of agents who control parts, we can see two patterns of control, termed DISPERSED PATTERNS and OVERLAPPING PATTERNS. These become palpable in a graphic diagramming tool, which is demonstrated in what follows. These diagrams also provide a means to consider the agents whose role is to specify what is to be made. The paper includes notes related studies in other fields.Finally, the paper suggests how this perspective can be useful, and several research topics based on it are sketched.
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