Concurrent engineering is focused on improving the Product Realization Process by more effectively integrating manufacturing issues into engineering design. Expansion of the Concurrent Engineering paradigm to include a broader range of concerns is advocated, and this paper examines the integration of legal issues into the Product Realization Process. It describes a prototype legal expert system that focuses on product design based on defective design product liability law. The legal reasoning process is modeled using a fuzzy logic architecture. The goal for this prototype system is the development of a workstation based advisor to engineers that automates assessment of potential legal liability for defective design. As a Concurrent Engineering tool, this fuzzy system allows engineers to make modifications during preliminary design, thereby avoiding the more painful process of modifying designs after litigation. Results with this system are discussed, and it is concluded that the fuzzy logic architecture appears to offer a suitable approach.

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