Scalable Platforms Using Ant Colony Optimization


Mass customization necessitates increased product variety at the customers' end but comparatively lesser part variety at the manufacturer's end. Product platform concepts have been successful to achieve this goal at large. One of the popular methods for product platform formation is to scale one or more design variables called the scaling variables. Effective optimization methods are needed to identify proper values of the scaling variables. This paper presents a graph-based optimization method called the scalable platforms using ant colony optimization (SPACO) method for identifying appropriate values of the scaling variables. In the graph-based representation, each node signifies a sub-range of values for a design variable. This application includes the concept of multiplicity in node selection because there are multiple nodes corresponding to the discretized values of a given design variable. In the SPACO method, the overall decision is a result of the cumulative decisions, made by simple computing agents called the ants, over a number of iterations. The space search technique initially starts as a random search technique over the entire search space and progressively turns into an autocatalytic (positive feedback) probabilistic search technique as the solution matures. We use a family of universal electric motors, widely cited in the literature, to test the effectiveness of the proposed method. Our simulation results, when compared to the results reported in the literature, prove that SPACO method is a viable optimization method for determining the values of design variables for scalable platforms.


Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Ant Colony Optimization; Platforms; Product Family

Document Type

Article - Journal

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