A methodology for building a semantically annotated multi-faceted ontology for product family modelling

Soon Chong Johnson Lim, Ying Liu, Wing Bun Lee

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Product family design is one of the prevailing approaches in realizing mass customization. With the increasing number of product offerings targeted at different market segments, the issue of information management in product family design, that is related to an efficient and effective storage, sharing and timely retrieval of design information, has become more complicated and challenging. Product family modelling schema reported in the literature generally stress the component aspects of a product family and its analysis, with a limited capability to model complex inter-relations between physical components and other required information in different semantic orientations, such as manufacturing, material and marketing wise. To tackle this problem, ontology-based representation has been identified as a promising solution to redesign product platforms especially in a semantically rich environment. However, ontology development in design engineering demands a great deal of time commitment and human effort to process complex information. When a large variety of products are available, particularly in the consumer market, a more efficient method for building a product family ontology with the incorporation of multi-faceted semantic information is therefore highly desirable. In this study, we propose a methodology for building a semantically annotated multi-faceted ontology for product family modelling that is able to automatically suggest semantically-related annotations based on the design and manufacturing repository. The six steps of building such ontology: formation of product family taxonomy; extraction of entities; faceted unit generation and concept identification; facet modelling and semantic annotation; formation of a semantically annotated multi-faceted product family ontology (MFPFO); and ontology validation and evaluation are discussed in detail. Using a family of laptop computers as an illustrative example, we demonstrate how our methodology can be deployed step by step to create a semantically annotated MFPFO. Finally, we briefly discuss future research issues as well as interesting applications that can be further pursued based on the MFPFO developed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-161
Number of pages15
JournalAdvanced Engineering Informatics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Multi-faceted
  • Ontology development
  • Product family modeling
  • Semantic annotation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Artificial Intelligence

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