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Fil Salustri's Design Site

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2015.01.09 11:13
research:products_as_transformers

Products as Transformers

The goal of this project is to establish an informal structure on design processes based on the systems perspective of an entity being a transformer of its inputs to its outputs. The focus is on the engineering aspects of a product's design.

An entity can be broadly classified as one of matter, energy, or information.

A transformer (a product or service) is an entity that provides the function of transforming available input entities to required and resultant output entities.

The inputs and outputs come from and go to the operating environment of the transformer.

The inputs may already exist in the operating environment, or they may have to be made available for the transformer.

Not all inputs are desirable (e.g. radiation in space, excess heat, moisture, etc).

Determining what, if any, inputs must be made available for the transformer to function is part of the design process. Since the designer does not control the environment from which these inputs come, the designer must collaborate with others who do have that control. A point of balance must be found collaboratively by all parties, so that expression of the transformer's function does not worsen performance of other entities in the environment.

Not all outputs are desirable (e.g. waste heat, effluents, etc).

Determining what outputs, desirable and otherwise, can be tolerated by the environment is part of the design process. Since the designer does not control the environment to which the outputs go, the designer must collaborate with others who do have that control. A point of balance must be found collaboratively by all parties, so that the expression of the transformer's function does not worsen performance of other entities in the environment.

Clearly enumerating the inputs and outputs is the purview of requirements engineering.

So, an initial step in a design process is to enumerate the kinds of matter, energy, and information that a transformer must provide, subject to constraints of available inputs and collateral undesirable outputs.

Expressing these transformations results in functional requirements of the transformer, and constraints on the extent to which the transformations must be manifested functionally by the transformer.

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