Enhancing communication of plant design knowledge: Dissertation

Kari Kaarela

Research output: ThesisDissertationCollection of Articles

2 Citations (Scopus)


In industrial plant projects much of the design knowledge is lost. Design documents typically concentrate on implementation-oriented structural information that is required to construct the plant. The documents to a great extent lack the functional knowledge representing the original design intentions, formed mainly during the conceptual design stage, and information on the design process. As a result, the design documents do not contain answers to questions about the purpose of the design. One typically cannot find any justifications for the design decisions, e.g. the selection of one of several apparently sufficiently good alternatives. Yet both kinds of information have proven to be important for effective co-operation of designers within a project, for succeeding projects, and for the operation and maintenance of the resulting plant. This thesis addresses the problem of structuring, recording, and transferring the design knowledge between designers and from the designers to the end users. The proposed solution is to introduce formal knowledge representations powerful enough to express the relevant concepts of the domain into the design process. With these representations and supporting tools we aim to structure and record the functional design knowledge at design time. Multilevel flow modelling is used to capture the functional knowledge of the plant. The resulting conceptual model is utilised for structuring the informal design knowledge related to both the designed artefact and the design process. Based on two validating industrial cases, the approach seems able to capture this design knowledge in industrial plant projects. On-line presentation of the functional knowledge to the plant operators is discussed. Our work emphasises the consistent presentation of the conceptual model created by the designers to the operators during the training sessions, in the user interfaces and alarm systems of the plant's automation systems, and in the on-line documentation system coupled to the automation systems. Two operator support system prototypes, implemented using commercial state-of-the-art automation systems and recent information technology developments such as the World Wide Web, show that it is feasible to implement useful MFM-based sources of information for the operators of industrial plants, based on the information gathered while applying the proposed approach during the design phase.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor Degree
Awarding Institution
  • University of Oulu
  • Leiviskä, Kauko, Supervisor, External person
Award date10 May 1996
Place of PublicationEspoo
Print ISBNs951-38-4930-9
Publication statusPublished - 1996
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • industrial plants
  • design
  • planning
  • computers
  • computer programs
  • information
  • transferring
  • models
  • computer interfaces
  • communicating
  • conseptual process design
  • multilevel flow modelling
  • design knowledge
  • operator support systems
  • on-line documentation


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