Kurzbeschreibung des Projektes:

Gerade für jüngere Kleine und Mittelständische Unternehmen (KMU) besteht eine Reihe von Schwellen, die sie von der Entwicklung von gewinnträchtigen Produkten abhalten. In der Software-Entwicklung hat sich mittlerweile neben dem rein kommerziell orientierten Bereich ein weiterer etabliert, in dem die Software offengelegt und von einer großen Gruppe interessierter Anwender weiterentwickelt wird. Dieses Entwicklungsmodell wird heute als „Open Source" (Offene Quelle) bezeichnet. Der Erfolg einzelner Open-Source Projekte, z.B. Linux (Betriebssystem), zeigt die Mächtigkeit, die heute in diesem Modell steckt. Im Rahmen der „Experimentellen Fabrik Magdeburg" (ExFa) soll untersucht werden, ob und welche Möglichkeiten sich aus dem Open-Source-Gedanken für die Produkt- und Prozessentwicklung ergeben können (s.a. Leitprojekt der ExFa). Die zentrale Frage für dieses Vorhaben lautet: "Wie lassen sich die Open-Source-Gedanken in der Produktentwicklung nutzen?"

Ansprechpartner: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Karl-Heinrich Grote

Detaillierte Informationen zu diesem Projekt :

Development of a design method for an open-source product development environment

The Open-Source development method was first introduced and has been successfully applied in the software industry [1]. This research project, this approach will be applied to mechanical engineering design and development.

0. Introduction

In 1998, a number of small- and medium-size regional companies and academic institutions wanted to establish new forms of cooperation. The resulting consortium is the Experimental Factory in Magdeburg, Germany. The Engineering Design Department of Otto-von-Guericke-Universität received funding from the state of Saxony-Anhalt for a three year research project on Open Source Development Methodology (OSDM). The intent of the project is to study the development and methodologies for effective product development.

Newly established companies such as those found in the new states of Germany are often short on economic and other resources and have difficulties competing with the developments that come from innovative, technically advanced and profitable products produced by larger companies. The reasons for this are largely financial, both in terms of the lack of technical equipment and the technological knowledge that is available.
A large part of the labor force in the former East German states, including the state of Saxony-Anhalt, is employed in these types of small enterprises. For this reason it is of particular importance that small and medium sized businesses are effective in new product development in order to create new jobs. In order to be successful in product development, these companies are encouraged to adopt the OSDM form of cooperative industry.
The companies involved have the opportunity to gain short-term market advantages by utilizing the resources and technical expertise of academia, research organizations, and other companies within the cooperative environment and applying it to new and innovative product development methods. Examples of shared resources might be intellectual property, manufacturing and testing facilities.

The concept of an Open-Source Development Methodology (OSDM) was developed collaboratively during several detailed discussions of cooperation between the companies involved and research institutions. This early collaboration established buy-in by the companies for OSDM.

1. The Idea of an Open Source Product Development Methodology

The Open-Source concept was adopted from the field of Computer and Information Science [1,2,3,4]. Open source software is source code that is cooperatively developed and therefore freely distributed among developers and businesses. One of the results of such cooperation and free distribution is that the software is continually improved and refined to the benefit of the greater community. A well known success story of open source software development is the operating system Linux.

This research focuses on how to apply an Open-Source model to product design and development in the physical world. The research also includes the study of possible advantages of using this approach for engineering designers, production companies and customers.

2. The State of the Research

2.1. Open-Source Analysis

The research began with establishing a common platform for all the companies to have shared understanding of how new product development, manufacturing and business plans would work for each individual company and also for the cooperative as whole. Each company was trained in proven design methodologies such as those created by Pahl and Beitz [12] in order to meet customer needs and have a successful product. The research is mainly aimed at showing the technical, design, methodical, organizational and scientific aspects of an open source product development.

2.2. Traditional Methods for Design and Product Development

A target product and market were defined for OSDM implementation. The traditional product development process was considered, and its relevance to the new approach is illustrated in Figure 1 [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12]. In the diagram below, circles represent individual participants, arrows show the direction of information flow, and squares represent the product being developed. The boundaries illustrate the division between organizations.
It was found that certain aspects of traditional design methodologies needed to be modified before being applied to the problem.

Traditional product development system

2.3. The Open-Source Approach

Thus far, only preliminary studies have been made of the associated companies participating in the project, due to legal issues such as patent rights, ownerships and other copyright issues that have yet to be resolved. In the software industry different forms of licensing and marketing have been developed which might act as a model for OSDM product development projects.
One of the trade-offs of the Open-Source concept is that companies can gain from knowledge pooled among all companies, but there is no mechanism for insuring that the benefits from the shared are fairly returned. To address this issue, the status of product knowledge being shared will be continuously reported.
Contacts that have been established or are considered as valuable information are:
- Institute for judicial affairs, regarding Open-Source Software (ifrOSS), Munich, Germany;
- The offices of attorney at law and physicist J. Siepmann, Freiburg, Breisgau, Germany;
- Institute for Information Science, University of Saarbrucken.

International resources are being researched and taken into consideration for a future, international introduction of the described design methodology.

2.4. Company survey

A catalogue of questions was included in the preliminary statement of intentions and the grant application. The answers to these questions are for the most part given in the study.

A sample question from the catalog:

How can the coordination of the Open-Source product development be implemented within a regional setting?

Figure 2 shows the OS-adjusted method, illustrated as a contrary to the traditional method described in Figure 1.

The identified participants in the system are:
- the principal developers (engineers)
- supporting developers

Hobby (amateurs)
Education (students)
Customers (without development intentions)

The method of cooperation was illustrated as follows:
- Shared experience from problems divided between different employees
- Exchanged information such as

  • demands (customer requirements)
  • solutions
  • recognition of individual contribution

Product development following the Open-Source concept

Conditions for cooperation are:
- simplified information exchange
- low cost information exchange
- discussion of possible solutions
- "democratic", shared decision making.

Mechanisms of cooperation are still being developed, but currently include:
- discussions between companies
- document sharing.
- resource allocation

2.5 Synergy with other Projects

The research of this project is based on the academic principles of the university, and the established knowledge and experience are gathered through years of study and practice. Creative ideas are developed by students and young scientists, as well as by partners from the industry and personnel from the technological support and related sciences within the Experimental Factory [9, 11].

3. Example: Cooperation with regional Small and Mid-Size Companies

Early stages of cooperative projects with industry partners can be presented as follows [10]:

Citim Barleben Co. (computer supported innovative technologies in mechanical engineering) and the metal casting company "Stassfurt Co." (both in Germany) have started cooperating to develop a competitive process chain for the production of aluminum prototypes. The process chain that is being developed has the aim of reducing time and cost. "Citim" will be able to go into a larger variety of prototype manufacturing and the metal casting company will be able to increase its productivity utilizing the new concept. The cooperative effort shows first results and synergy. The acquired knowledge is entered into the Open-Source-Database.

New possible partners for collaboration are being considered.

As mentioned before, the intention is the development of a design methodology including a computer controlled process chain.

The human and technical interface between the engineers and technicians of various disciplines, e.g. design and manufacturing is still today a practical difficulty. This problem is part of the research in order to establish an effective utilization of the design and manufacturing technologies

4. Summary

The analysis of the traditional methods for product development as well as the investigation into the problems of an Open-Source approach have established reasonable foundations for the development of a new and accommodating design methodology using the Open-Source concept. The research team is integrating both established and new methods and creative contributors.


[1] Grote, A.: Tux für die Welt - Open - Source macht Entwicklungsländer unabhängiger. In: c't magazin für computertechnik (2001), Nr. 10, S. 104-106
[2] Raymond, E. S.: The Cathedral and the Bazaar. O'Reilly, 1999
[3] DiBona, C. et all. (Hrsg.): Open sources: voices from the open source revolution. O'Reilly, 1999
[4] Nüttgens, M.; Tesei, E.: Open source. Institut für Wirtschaftsinformatik im Institut für Empirische Wirtschaftsforschung an der Universität des Saarlandes, 1999
[5] Young, R.; Rohm, W. G.: Under the Radar: How Red Hat Changed the Software Business and Took Microsoft By Surprise. O'Reilly, 1999
[6] Andreasen, M. M.: The Role of Artefact Theories in Design. In: Universal Design Theory, Shaker, Aachen, 1998, S. 57-70
[7] Tomiyama, T.: General Design Theory and its Extensions and Applications. In: Universal Design Theory, Shaker, Aachen, 1998, S. 25-44
[8] Reich, Y.: A critical review of General Design Theory. In: Research in Engineering Design 1 (1995), Nr. 7, S. 1-18
[9] Grote, K.-H.; Kimura, I.: Communication to accelerate product development in a collaborative engineering environment. In: International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 01). Glasgow, Aug. 21-23 2001
[10] Grote, K.-H.; Brockop, S.; Berkau, A.: Tools for Collaborative Innovation and Product Realization. Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Managing Innovative Manufacturing (MIM 2002), September 09 to September 12, 2002 in Milwaukee.
[11] Grote, K.-H.; Fietz, R.; Brockop, S.; Schwarz, R.; Kaiser, T.; Wernecke, D.: Creating and building the Experimental Factory - A facility for innovative product development, process management and production procedures , Second Saudi Technical Conference & Exhibition (STCEX), Riyadh, 26-30. October 2002.
[12] Pahl, G.; Beitz,W.; Feldhusen, J.; Grote, K.-H.: Pahl/Beitz: Konstruktionslehre, 5. Auflage, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 2000