Product Platform and Product Family Design


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Overview of Lecture

  • Recap of the book

    • What we covered and what we did not…
    • …and other books of interest
  • Current/future directions in platform/family design

    • Excerpts from:
      • Simpson, T. W., Marion, T. J., de Weck, O., Holtta-Otto, K., Kokkolaras, M. and Shooter, S. B. (2006) Platform-Based Design and Development: Current Trends and Needs in Industry, 2006 ASME Design Engineering Technical Conferences - Design Automation Conference, Philadelphia, PA, ASME, Paper No. DETC2006/DAC-99229
  • The Model T as the “model” platform

    • Excerpts from:
      • Alizon, F., Shooter, S. B. and Simpson, T. W. (2008) Henry Ford and the Model T: Lessons for Product Platforming and Mass Customization, 2009 ASME Design Engineering Technical Conferences - Design Automation Conference, Saitou, K., ed., New York, NY, August 3-6, ASME, DETC2008/DAC-49420 to appear in Design Studies (2009)


Product Platform and Product Family Design

  • Editors:

    • Timothy W. Simpson, Zahed Siddique, & Jianxin (Roger) Jiao
  • Year of Publication:

    • 2005
  • Publisher:

    • Springer (New York)
  • Focus:

    • Methods for designing product platforms and product families


Target Audience

  • Our target audience includes:

    • 1. Researchers and Ph.D. students in Mechanical Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Computer-Integrated Manufacturing, and related fields in Engineering Management
    • 2. Practitioners involved in Design, Development, Planning and Production in the manufacturing industry
  • We wanted to provide an overview of the more mature research that has occurred, emphasizing methods for:

    • developing platform architectures
    • identifying platform leveraging strategies
    • positioning products within a family
    • planning the extent of the product family
    • optimizing families of products based on platforms
  • including platform case studies form industry



Contributing Authors

  • Over 30 authors contributed 22 chapters

  • Authors span academia as well as industry:

    • Penn State, MIT, Georgia Tech, Michigan, BYU, Bucknell, UIUC, University of Oklahoma
    • Osaka University, Nanyang Technological University, University of Twente, Chalmers University of Technology
    • ABB, PRTM, Robust Systems & Strategy, Infotiv, Hofer & Partner, KPMG Advisory Services
  • National and international contributors from:

    • United States, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Malta, Japan, Singapore


Chapter 1: Introduction & Overview

  • Chapter 1

    • Product Variety and Customization
    • Definitions of Platforms and Product Families
    • General Approaches to Platform Design
    • Module-Based Product Families and Examples
    • Scale-Based Product Families and Examples
    • Discuss Organization of the Book
  • Authors:

      • Timothy W. Simpson, Penn State University
      • Zahed Siddique, Oklahoma University
      • Jianxin (Roger) Jiao, Nanyang Technological University (Singapore)


Pictorial Overview (Chapter 1)



Part I: Front-End Issues in Platforming

  • Chapters 2-7

    • 2: Effective Platform Planning in the Front-End
      • Daniel Bowman, PRTM
    • 3: Platform-Driven Development of Product Families
      • Johannes I. M. Halman, University of Twente (Netherlands), Adrian P. Hofer, Hofer & Partner (Switzerland), and Wim van Vuuren, KPMG Advisory Services (Malta)
    • 4: Platform Concept Selection
      • Katja Hölttä-Otto, MIT (UMass-Dartmouth) with Kevin Otto, Robust Systems and Strategy
    • 5: Platform Leveraging Strategies and Market Segmentation
      • Tucker Marion and Timothy W. Simpson, Penn State University
    • 6: Product Family Positioning
      • Jianxin Jiao and Yiyang Zhang, Nanyang Technological University (Singapore)
    • 7: Commonality Indices for Product Families
      • Henri J. Thevenot and Timothy W. Simpson, Penn State University


Part II: Optimization-Based Approaches

  • Chapters 8-12

    • 8: Methods for Optimizing Platforms and Families
      • Timothy W. Simpson, Penn State University
    • 9: Commonality Decisions in Platform Design
      • Michael Kokkolaras, Ryan Fellini, and Panos Y. Papalambros, University of Michigan
    • 10: Product Variety Optimization
      • Kikuo Fujita, Osaka University (Japan)
    • 11: Analytical Target Cascading in Product Family Design
      • Ryan Fellini, Michael Kokkolaras, and Panos Y. Papalambros, University of Michigan, with Harrison H. Kim from UIUC
    • 12: Determining Product Platform Extent
      • Olivier de Weck, MIT


Part III: Back-End Issues in Platforming

  • Chapters 13-18

    • 13: Roadmap for Product Architecture Costing
      • Sebastian K. Fixson, University of Michigan
    • 14: Activity-Based Costing for Product Families
      • Jaeil Park and Timothy W. Simpson, Penn State University
    • 15: Product Platform Redesign using Platforms
      • Zahed Siddique, University of Oklahoma
    • 16: Process Platforms and Product Configuration
      • Jianxin (Roger) Jiao, Lianfeng Zhang, and Shaligram Pokharel, Nanyang Technological University (Singapore)
    • 17: Measuring Shape Commonality
      • Zahed Siddique, University of Oklahoma
    • 18: Process Parameter Platform Design
      • Christopher B. Williams, Janet K. Allen, David W. Rosen, and Farrokh Mistree, Georgia Tech


Part IV: Applications

  • Chapters 19-22

    • 19: Ice Scraper Platforms at Innovation Factory
    • 20: Engineering Platforms and Families at ABB
      • Srinivas Nidamarthi and Harshavardhan Karandikar, ABB (Germany)
    • 21: Product Design Generator at Honeywell
      • Gregory M. Roach and Jordan J. Cox, BYU
    • 22: Platform Management Practice at Cetetherm
      • Tobias Holmqvist and Magnus Persson, Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden) with Karin Uller from Infotiv


Other Books: The Power of Product Platforms

  • Authors:

    • Marc Meyer & Al Lehnerd
  • Year of Publication:

    • 1997
  • Publisher:

    • Free Press (New York)
  • Focus:

    • This has become THE book on product platform planning


Product Strategy for High-Tech Companies

  • Author:

    • Michael E. McGrath
  • Year of Publication:

    • 2001
  • Publisher:

    • McGraw-Hill (New York)
  • Focus:

    • Use of platforms in high-tech industries and PRTM’s platform planning process


Managing Product Families

  • Authors:

  • Year of Publication:

    • 1997
  • Publisher:

    • Irwin (Chicago, IL)
  • Focus:

    • Product family management with an emphasis on Sony’s platform planning strategy


Design Rules Volume I: The Power of Modularity

  • Authors:

    • Carliss Y. Baldwin & Kim B. Clark
  • Year of Publication:

    • 2000
  • Publisher:

    • MIT Press (Cambridge, MA)
  • Focus:

    • Modular-based design strategies and examples


The Age of Modularity

  • Author:

    • Peter O’Grady
  • Year of Publication:

    • 1999
  • Publisher:

    • Adams and Steele (Iowa City, IA)
  • Focus:

    • Modularity and its role in product design as well as organizational design


Controlling Design Variants

  • Authors:

    • Anna Ericsson & Gunnar Erixon
  • Year of Publication:

    • 1999
  • Publisher:

    • SME (New York)
  • Focus:

    • Modular Function DeploymentTM and Module Identification MatrixTM Methods


Product Variety Management

  • Editors:

    • Teck-Hua Ho & Christopher S. Tang
  • Year of Publication:

    • 1998
  • Publisher:

    • Kluwer (Boston, MA)
  • Focus:

    • Collection of papers dealing with the management of product variety


Integrated Design of a Product Family

  • Authors:

    • Pierre De Lit & Alain Delchambre
  • Year of Publication:

    • 1998
  • Publisher:

    • Kluwer (Boston, MA)
  • Focus:



Build-to-Order & Mass Customization

  • Author:

    • David M. Anderson
  • Year of Publication:

    • 2004
  • Publisher:

    • CIM Press (Cambria, CA)
  • Focus:

    • Product design and supply chain issues associated with mass customization and build-to-order systems


Overview of Lecture

  • Recap of the book

    • What we covered and what we did not…
    • …and other books of interest
  • Current directions in product family and platform design

    • Excerpts from:
      • Simpson, T. W., Marion, T. J., de Weck, O., Holtta-Otto, K., Kokkolaras, M. and Shooter, S. B. (2006) Platform-Based Design and Development: Current Trends and Needs in Industry, 2006 ASME Design Engineering Technical Conferences - Design Automation Conference, Philadelphia, PA, ASME, Paper No. DETC2006/DAC-99229
  • The Model T as the “model” platform

    • Excerpts from:
      • Alizon, F., Shooter, S. B. and Simpson, T. W. (2008) Henry Ford and the Model T: Lessons for Product Platforming and Mass Customization, 2009 ASME Design Engineering Technical Conferences - Design Automation Conference, Saitou, K., ed., New York, NY, August 3-6, ASME, DETC2008/DAC-49420 to appear in Design Studies (2009)


2004 Platform Management for Continued Growth

  • Nov. 30 – Dec. 1, 2004 in Atlanta, GA

  • Sponsored by PDMA/IIR

  • Keynote Speaker:

    • Marc Meyer, co-author of Power of Product Platforms
  • Twenty industry experts:

    • Harley Davidson, Kodak, DuPont, Intel, and Lockheed Martin, Aventis Pasteur, IBM, Case-New Holland Global, Cingular Wireless, Playtex, Argon Engineering, and Innovation Focus


Post-Conference Workshop

  • Hosted by Mr. Patrick Gordon from PRTM



November 9-10, 2005 at MIT

  • November 9-10, 2005 at MIT

    • Co-organized by Olivier de Weck and Timothy W. Simpson
    • Co-sponsored by MIT, CIPD (Prof. Chris Magee), Penn State, and a generous donation from DuPont (Debbra Johnson)
  • Objectives:

    • Unveil and present new edited volume (book)
    • Bring community of practitioners and academics together: to learn, think, debate, network, socialize,…
    • Extend concept of product families and platforms to non-traditional areas: software, services
    • Transition from CIPD to Center for Engr Sys Fundamentals


Conference Highlights

  • Two keynote speakers:

    • Marc Meyer, co-author of Power of Product Platforms (1997)
    • B. Joseph Pine II, author of Mass Customization (1993)
  • Industry speakers from:

    • HP, DuPont, Design Continuum, LG, United Technologies, PRTM, ABB, GM/Saab, Robust Systems and Strategy, and Innovation Factory
  • Panel discussion and enlightening talks from academia

  • Drew 114 participants split evenly between industry and academia

  • All presentations and materials available on website:

    • http://cipd.mit.edu/pd


Platforms for Innovation and Enterprise Growth



Common Themes & Trends

  • Several common themes arose from the 30+ industry presentations and ensuing discussions:

    • Corporate Culture Change
    • Upper Management – Catalyst for Change
    • Product Development – Results through Teamwork
    • Architecture – Common Subsystems and Reduced Complexity
    • Platform Strategies in “Non-Traditional” Applications
    • Forecasting and Analysis – Understand the Market
    • Financial Planning
    • Globalization and Product Platforms


Corporate Culture Change

  • Corporations that embraced cross-functional product platform teams routinely were able to quickly reinvent themselves and successfully enter new markets

    • Functional management structures tend to lead to ‘fiefdoms’ with overlapping capabilities (R&D, marketing, design, etc.)
    • IBM example taken from Paul Mugge:


Upper Management – Catalyst for Change

  • Reorganization will fail without strong support from upper management

    • After losing $8B in 1993, Louis V. Gerstner spearheaded a culture change by appointing senior management to lead the effort and commit the required resources (see: LVG, Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?, Harper Business, 2002)
    • In 2000, Intel’s Desktop Platform Group shifted focus from developing components to developing platforms, and management provided evolutionary improvement and implementation of a coherent Platform Development Management System
  • Whether through a change manager (IBM) or an evolutionary change (Intel), upper management must support and be integrated in platform management



Product Development – Results through Teamwork

  • Cross-functional product development teams are essential for implementing a successful platform development strategy

    • Sanofi Aventis shared experiences with using platforms to expedite FDA approval process for the vaccines that they develop
  • Some firms experimenting with layered models:

    • platform teams serve as “middleware”, connecting slower science-related R&D layer with fast-paced market-related product development layer that wants to assemble and customize products from existing, proven technologies quickly for changing customer demands


Architecture – Common Subsystems and Reduced Complexity

  • Developing cohesive and flexible product architectures is a necessity for successful platform implementation

  • To achieve this, nearly every speaker presented a customized version of Meyer’s “Power Tower” at the PDMA Conference that served as their firm’s product planning roadmap

    • DuPont’s example from their work with Innovation Focus 


“Non-Traditional” Applications of Platforms

  • Platform-based development is being adopted in “non-traditional” sectors such as telecommunications, software, food and drug industries, health care and service systems (e.g., entertainment, tourism, banking)

  • Requires rethinking platform principles for technology-focused platforms, artistic and industrial design-based platforms, brand recognition-based platforms, etc.



Forecasting and Analysis – Understand the Market

  • Companies must listen to and identify the needs and expectations of each market segment and tier

    • What is the significance of this segment?
    • What are the key products?
    • What are their volumes, revenue, and profits?
    • What is the outlook for the next 5 years?
    • What does the company have to do to enter, sustain, and grow in the segment?
  • Companies can then develop a ‘360 degree’ view of potential customers to understand their needs, requirements, and usage patterns

  • ‘Voice of the Customer’ (VOC) based approaches were used successfully by many companies to guide the specification and features of new product platforms



Financial Planning

  • Justifying product family development to senior-level management requires estimating the expected financial benefits: savings due to commonality (e.g., in manufacturing, inventory, training, maintenance) and revenues due to successful products in the market

    • Requires integrating marketing, design, engineering, and manufacturing considerations into a unifying framework to support platform decision-making


Globalization and Product Platforms

  • Globalization not only offers opportunities for product families but actually implies them

  • Speakers stated that platform-based development is the only way for international companies to market their products efficiently and stay in business

  • Taking a global perspective can offer new market opportunities also

    • DuPont example 


Needs & Future Directions

  • Recognizing a Holistic Platform Strategy

    • How to integrate life-cycle concerns and manage knowledge
  • Flexible Platform Design for Multiple Generations

    • How do we embed flexibility into platforms to enable them to evolve as technology changes to serve multiple generations
  • Corporate Platform Strategy and Tradeoffs

    • How can we facilitate corporate reorganization for platform teaming while ensuring management “buy in” is achieved
  • Expanding Views for Platforms

    • How to best leverage platform principles to service platforms, software platforms, brand platforms, etc.
  • Effective Partnerships: Industry+Academic+Government

    • How to exploit synergies among our efforts and help educate future generations of platform designers and engineers



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