Towards and adhesive design toolkit (MMS7)
The successful implementation of adhesives technology within the UK has been recognised by the DTI as a crucial component for stimulating innovative development within the manufacturing sector. The benefits of adopting this approach initiated several years ago through the MTS and Performance of Adhesive Joints (PAJ) programs, are already starting to emerge. Such a situation is not unique to the UK; Germany has shown a 40% reduction in rework costs through the active promotion of adhesives technology training and certification programs. Last year the number of adhesives bonder certifications in Germany exceeded 1000, a large proportion of whom were from the rail transport sector.
The volume of valuable information generated by the previous MTS programs has been significant. So much so that it has created the problem of efficient dissemination to industry at large. In addition, the wide range of experience and level of acceptance of adhesives within industry, especially SMEs, requires a structured approach to make effective use of such material. To address this need, a method of distillation and dissemination of what is predominantly text based information has been put forward by TWI. The complementary proposal, entitled Promoting the Competitive Advantage of UK Industry by Making Adhesives Technology Available On-Line (PR5408/1), will enable users to have free and targeted access to adhesives information and data over the internet via the JoinITŪ site. This work will be carried out in parallel with the work described in this proposal.
One key aspect of adhesives technology that has been lacking from previous programs is an overall framework with which to guide would-be adhesives users in terms of design, selection and total quality control (QC). There exist discrete software packages that have been developed from earlier initiatives. Such systems include:
These software packages go some way to addressing adhesive selection and design requirements but they do not provide an integrated solution in themselves. It is proposed that the most effective way forward is to work towards the development of an adhesives design toolkit in which a common format is adopted. The definition of appropriate protocols will ensure that all identified software packages can be integrated with the capacity for future expansion at a later date.
The DTI has previously funded a composites design toolkit, the need for which arose for similar reasons described above. The work was carried out by AEA, NPL and QinetiQ (formerly DERA) and resulted in the production of a system that integrated five software modules to assist design engineers with composites use. This work is in the final stages of completion and it is anticipated versions of the software will be available in late 2002. In a similar way there is an equal if not greater need for a similar type of toolkit for adhesives design. It is believed that due to the extremely broad range of applications and end users, the adhesives design toolkit should be made freely available to the widest audience possible. In view of this, a browser driven web based format is proposed.
The aim of this project is to develop an integrated adhesives design toolkit that will become an essential resource to any individual or organisation that wishes to utilise adhesives bonding technology to its greatest advantage. The toolkit will be browser driven, thereby enabling it to be accessed over the World Wide Web.
The objectives of the project are to:
The existence of an integrated, highly accessible adhesives design toolkit will be of significant benefit to all industrial sectors. Key benefits to the user will include:
It is envisaged that the look, feel and function of the toolkit from the user?s perspective will include the following features:
There are many commercial sites that claim to offer some of the above but an initial investigation would suggest that the output is either heavily product biased, difficult to use and lacks a structured approach that many new or potential adhesive users will require. As a result, the user can become confused with the range of sometimes-conflicting data on offer, increasing the possibility of selecting an inappropriate adhesive.
Overall this toolkit must be simple, easy to use and intuitive, it must be seen as an essential resource that 'cannot be done without', delivering useful information and data based upon sound design rules and expert knowledge.
The primary focus of this project will be the development of a toolkit infrastructure with a set of clearly defined protocols into which a number of modified software modules will be placed. This ?first-phase? or skeleton toolkit will be web based and its functionality will be defined, developed and evaluated in conjunction with a broad industrial user base. The work can be divided into nine clear tasks as listed below:
Task 1: Identify, audit and select key toolkit modules (T1)
Task 2: Review industry requirement (T2).
Task 3: Develop toolkit infrastructure (T3).
Task 4: Develop toolkit modules (T4).
Task 5: Data management (T5).
Task 6 Toolkit validation (T6).
Task 7: Dissemination (T7).
Task 8: Identification of missing modules and sustainability strategies (T8).
Task 9: Project management (T9).
It is proposed to use the methodology shown in Fig.1 as a means to do this.
It is recognised that there is insufficient scope within the present project budget to incorporate all of the modules that have or will be identified. It will therefore be necessary to select a minimum of four of the highest priority modules, which can be completed within the appropriate time-scale and budget. In addition, until Task 2 has been completed, it will not be possible to define the total content of Task 4.
The project duration is two years with the proposed commencement date being April 1 2002. The deliverables are defined within each task, as summarised below.