A model for co-evolution in manufacturing based on biological analogy

Tarek AlGeddawy, Hoda ElMaraghy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Manufacturing systems continue to adapt in order to survive the changing and challenging markets and global competition. Product and manufacturing design and capabilities are configured to allow the needed adaptation through innovative design, improved system paradigms, intelligent design and optimisation models, and product grouping to increase efficiency. In this research, it is hypothesised that the evolution and co-evolution of products and the machines used to manufacture them is akin to that observed in the adaptation of biological species. The symbiosis between products and manufacturing capabilities is studied using real examples, and a new model that establishes the symbiotic relationship between their evolution paths and observed co-evolution trends based on available historical information is proposed. Dual cladograms are used to track their evolution and detect useful potential development and plausible future evolution trends. When a state of co-evolution equilibrium is reached, a stimulus for more abrupt changes would be needed to cause further evolution on both sides. The co-evolution model has been applied to an example based on analysing the history of machine tools development and data from a major machine tools manufacturer. The evolution and co-evolution hypotheses of machined parts and machine tools were charted up to the currently observed state of equilibrium in this application field. This innovative model of co-evolution in manufacturing can help improve the utility of manufacturing resources and prolong the life of manufacturing systems beyond a single product generation and its variants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4415-4435
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Production Research
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge the funding provided by the Canadian Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Canada Research Chairs program. They also appreciate the extensive and valuable information documenting the progression of machine tools developed by the Mori Seiki machine-tool company since 1970, which was used in this research.


  • adaptation
  • co-evolution
  • manufacturing systems
  • product design
  • symbiosis


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