Developing Efficient Workflows for Contemporary Design Processes and Robotics
This Master’s thesis forms a section of a team based research project with the aim to understand how contemporary tools can inform a contemporary design workflow. This workflow is primarily focused on utilizing a robotic arm to incrementally form sheet aluminium into architectural components. Specifically, my role within this team is from the Project Management point of view trying to understand how Project Management can improve team focused contemporary design. The goal of the thesis is to establish a workflow outlining an efficient process for designing and fabricating prototype architectural systems. Research Questions: Team: How can contemporary tools inform a contemporary digital workflow? Individual: How can Project Management improve the performance and efficiency of team focused contemporary design workflows? The aims of the research are to first establish an understanding of the digital fabrication workflow and establish what management tools best fit within the workflow. This aligns with the team goal to create and establish how digital fabrication and robotics could be applied to New Zealand construction practice. The goal is not to suggest a replacement for current methods, but to understand and integrate a methodology using a parametric design process and, to aid the introduction of complexity in design not currently available through traditional construction and joinery methods. Understanding the function Project Management has for workflow management and development is a primary research goal which can be broken down into parts. - How can activities be efficiently designed? - What procedures need to be implemented? - What are the best process management techniques? The knowledge gained through an iterative work study shows that project managers have a unique perspective within the development of digital fabrication workflows. A project manager integrated into this process is able to influence and define the key performance indicators of projects undertaken within this contemporary environment. The method used to establish and develop a workflow for digital fabrication processes, is a work study. This involves developing a workflow based on similar cases and then redevelop it based on performance indicators from literature. Identifying key areas of failure is a part of this process and is a common method within industry for improving organisation efficiency and productivity. A limiting factor of this research is the fact the team was learning the process overtime. Therefore, people are subject to unequal levels of understanding of what needs to be considered as part of workflow development gaining new perspective with hindsight. This is not, and cannot be accounted for, however is noted as part of lessons learnt during the reflection process of the work-study.