Set-Based Concurrent Engineering

An approach to the design of products and services in which developers consider sets of ideas rather than single ideas. To do this, developers:

  • Use trade-off curves and design guidelines to characterize (or describe) known feasible design sets, and thus focus the search for designs.
  • Identify and develop multiple alternatives, and eliminate alternatives only when proven inferior or infeasible.
  • Start with design targets, and allow the actual specifications and tolerances to emerge through analysis and testing.
  • Delay selecting the final design or establishing the final specifications until the team knows enough to make a good decision.

This approach yields substantial organizational learning. It takes less time and costs less in the long term than typical point-based engineering systems that select a design solution early in the development process, with the typical consequence of false starts, rework, failed projects, and minimal learning.