Structural and Functional Analysis for Assemblies

Structural and Functional Analysis for Assemblies

Author:  Hugo Falgarone and Nicolas Chevassus

Abstract: This article presents a systemic method for designing assemblies. It is based on generic concepts such as modeling of assemblies using assembly nested graphs which reflect the product design breakdown, the interfaces between components. The proposed method enables to assess the product producibility and the robustness of the assembly process. It eases impact analysis following changes of modified product functions or features.
A software tool, called GAIA, has been developed to support this method; based on a user-friendly interface. It enables specifying assemblies through interfaces and performing a functional and structural analysis of assemblies. Interoperable with the Digital Mock-up and Product Management Systems, it speeds up design changes and impact analysis. Finally, it is useful to grasp the design intents and to capitalize and reuse this design knowledge.
The adoption of this advanced modeling technique in support of the engineering assembly process improves the quality of designed products and reduces the cost of change management, customization and fault rectification by solving assembly issues at the design stage.


 7.1 Industrial Background

Traditional Computer Aided Design tools (CAD) help designers to set up product geometrical definitions. However, these tools do not easily capture designers’ intent as it should be needed in order to record the functional specification cascade with respect to the product’s breakdown. For complex assemblies, the main hurdle that prevents designers from understanding the results of systemic analysis deal s with the lack of representation over the product 3D geometry of both functional requirements and interfaces between components.

7.4 GAIA Software for Systemic Analysis of Assemblies

The EADS Corporate Research Centre has developed a new design tool to support the method presented. This innovative piece of software is called GAIA which means Graphical Analysis of Interfaces for Assemblies. This software tool enables to grasp the design intent, the product structural and functional interfaces and the manufacturing process decisions with a user -friendly graphical user interface (GUI). The corresponding product-process specifications can be exported to various product life-cycle management (PLM) and PDM systems.


GAIA is based on a MS Visio user interface and looks like an office tool Its main features are:

  • Support of the presented design method
  • Easy to handle
  • Adaptability to many engineering applications and
  • Client-server architecture with a multi-user database

GAIA provides a common framework and repository throughout the product-process design phases for supporting various methodologies and tools. Its main advantages are:

  • GAIA is a visual tool for specifying assemblies through interfaces
  • GAIA supports the functional and structural analysis for assemblies
  • GAIA speeds up design changes and impact analysis
  • GAIA, coupled with CAD and Computer Aided Process tools (CAP), enabled iterative design from GAIA specification to CAD/CAP definition and back.
  • GAIA makes it possible to capitalize and reuse design knowledge about assemblies.


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