In collaborative engineering, the dependencies of engineering problems determine with whom and how designers should coordinate. Based on the directed dependency framework introduced in this research, we argue that the reciprocal and cyclic dependencies cause design iterations and inefficiencies, and should be avoided if possible. By studying the patterns of engineering dependencies and design decomposition, this paper provides an approach to manage the dependencies in order to avoid reciprocal and cyclic dependencies both in the early conceptual design stage and in design task arrangement stage, to make collaborative design more efficient. The long-term goal of this research is to develop a dependency-based coordination framework that consists of a formal model of engineering dependencies, and coordination methods, and guidelines for dependency-based engineering design and management. This paper describes our current dependency modeling framework and dependency management methods for collaborative design.

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