A framework for developing engineering design ontologies within the aerospace industry

I. O. Sanya, E. M. Shehab

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a framework for developing engineering design ontologies within the aerospace industry. The aim of this approach is to strengthen the modularity and reuse of engineering design ontologies to support knowledge management initiatives within the aerospace industry. Successful development and effective utilisation of engineering ontologies strongly depends on the method/framework used to develop them. Ensuring modularity in ontology design is essential for engineering design activities due to the complexity of knowledge that is required to be brought together to support the product design decision-making process. The proposed approach adopts best practices from previous ontology development methods, but focuses on encouraging modular architectural ontology design. The framework is comprised of three phases namely: (1) Ontology design and development; (2) Ontology validation and (3) Implementation of ontology structure. A qualitative research methodology is employed which is composed of four phases. The first phase defines the capture of knowledge required for the framework development, followed by the ontology framework development, iterative refinement of engineering ontologies and ontology validation through case studies and experts opinion. The ontology-based framework is applied in the combustor and casing aerospace engineering domain. The modular ontologies developed as a result of applying the framework and are used in a case study to restructure and improve the accessibility of information on a product design information-sharing platform. Additionally, domain experts within the aerospace industry validated the strengths, benefits and limitations of the framework. Due to the modular nature of the developed ontologies, they were also employed to support other project initiatives within the case study company such as role-based computing (RBC), IT modernisation activity and knowledge management implementation across the sponsoring organisation. The major benefit of this approach is in the reduction of man-hours required for maintaining engineering design ontologies. Furthermore, this approach strengthens reuse of ontology knowledge and encourages modularity in the design and development of engineering ontologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2383-2409
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Production Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Aerospace
  • Engineering design
  • Knowledge management
  • Modular
  • Ontology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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