Knowledge-Based Engineering

(also known as Set-Based Engineering)

Toyota’s method, whereby rather than concentrating on one solution as early as possible, as is often done in the west ( a point-based process), they look at a number of possible solutions as late as possible (a set of solutions, hence set-based development). The idea is to build up knowledge and trade-off curves for use in this and future projects, thus eventually making all projects more efficient, because of the bank of readily available knowledge that is available.

Key Aspects of the Toyota Method

  • ‘Set-Based’ Concurrent Engineering
  • Strong Project Leader (Entrepreneur Leader)
    • The Project leader is in charge of all aspects
    • Department chief engineers support him
    • Creative tension
  • Team of Responsible Experts
    • Trade-off curves
  • Multiple Alternatives, inc 1 ‘safe’ alternative
    • Reduces risk
  • Fixed ‘Integration’ Milestones
  • Short Design-Test Cycles
  • Team does its own work scheduling

Set-Based Concurrent Engineering

Set-based engineering means looking at a all the possibilities and delaying the decision until the last possible moment (the Integration Milestone). In the west most people practice Point-Based Engineering, i.e. looking at only a few possible solutions (often only one), and choosing one as early as possible, then having to retrace their steps when that does not work.

Point Based Engineering


Set Based Engineering


  • Intentionally Identify Multiple Solutions
  • Encourage Discussion from All Points of View
  • Used Trade-Off Curves
  • Capture Past Knowledge in
  • Checklists
  • Graphs
  • Equations
  • Use System Methods
    • Parametric Design
  • Have Structured Time Early

Elite’s View

Elite Consulting believes that Knowledge-Based Engineering is the best way forward. However it can’t be done overnight, as it requires sufficient knowledge to be built up and the staff to become expert enough.

Contact us to discuss how you can get on the journey to being a Knowledge-based company.