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Variety management is a cross-domain issue in product family design. In the real field, the relationships across the domains are so complex for most of the existing product families that they cannot be easily identified without proper reference architecture. This reference architecture should provide the cross- domain mapping mechanisms in an explicit manner and be able to identify the proper units for management. From this perspective of cross-domain framework, this paper introduces development architecture (DA) to describe the relationships between elements in market, design, and production domains and to give insights for the cross-domain variety management in the product development stage. DA has three parts: (1) the arrangement of elements in each domain, (2) the mapping between elements, and (3) the identification of management sets and key interfaces which are the proper units for variety management. The proposed development architecture framework is applied to the case of front chassis family of modules of an automobile.
This paper introduces a new method to help designers assess the impact of changes to a product platform when introducing a new variant. The method evaluates a platform design by investigating how changing some components will impact other platform design perspectives such as material, function, manufacturing processes and assembly time. To assess the usefulness of this method, it was applied to assess platform changes resulting from successive generations of scanner heads from two manufacturers. The method indicated that one manufacturer improved their scanner head design by improving the functionality of its components and assembly time. Whereas, the other manufacturer's new scanner head used more material and manufacturing processes without benefiting other design perspectives. Compared to existing product family evaluation methods which focus only on maximising commonality between product variants, the proposed method considers potential platform design improvements and assesses them from multiple design perspectives before deciding on reusing existing components or implementing the new design. The information from this method will also complement existing commonality indices.
Modularity is acknowledged to provide benefits across the whole product lifecycle. Accordingly, many literature contributions can be found about modularization methods, metrics and definitions. In particular, recent studies focused on the development of heuristic principles for exploiting modularity early in the design process. However, to design modules it is necessary to define their mutual interactions, the related interfaces and their production strategies. Concerning interfaces and interactions, this paper highlights that current definitions are often ambiguous and overlapping each other. Therefore, extracting univocal information about interfaces and interactions of existent modular products could be difficult. This could hinder the identification of comprehensive heuristic design guidelines, about how to design modules from a structural point of view. This paper proposes a new set of interface and interaction definitions, which allows to overcome the flaw observed for current ones. The proposed set and the classical one have been applied on 110 products identified on the web, showing that the new definitions allow to extract more reliable information.
In product family design, the commonality of products and performance are competing objectives when designers build platforms. The commonality makes it efficient to manufacture products while it will cause performance loss of products. In this paper, we assume that performance functions evaluate the performance of a product. Targets of performance functions are set for each product depending on the product's property. The designs that satisfy the target of performance functions are denoted as ‘good’ design points. By using ‘good’ design points, a weighted set cover problem (WSC) is applied to formulate the combinatorial optimization problem, which maximizes the commonality by minimizing the number component attributes. A recursive greedy algorithm is proposed to handle the general cost function in the problem for product family design. The formulation and the algorithm are tested for a linear three-degree-of-freedom (3DOF) model. In numerical experiment, the proposed method determines optimal values of the components which are suspensions, stabilizer bars, and tires in the vehicle model.
In recent years, the air transport market has quickly grown, creating new civil aircrafts demand, challenging the actual production rate of aerospace industries. The bottleneck of the current civil aircrafts production rate lies in the capability of the manufacturing and assembly facilities in relation to the aircrafts architecture design.
The aim of this work is to develop a methodology and a related mathematical model that can be used at the conceptual design phase for the assessment of criticalities related to the product assemblability. The methodology allows to recognize modules and/or interfaces which are mostly affecting the assembly time providing a design tool for the comparison and evaluation of product architecture alternatives.
A preliminary application has been done on the nose-fuselage of a civil aircraft for passenger transport. The test case provides interesting outcome in the identification of modules and module interfaces which are strongly affecting the assembly phase and required a re-arrangement (new architecture design) for the process improvement.
As todays’ global market trends lead to an increasing demand for individualised products, manufacturers need to cope with a high degree of internal and external variety, which has a severe impact on complexity and therefore -costs. When implementing modular product architectures, it becomes obvious, that the actual Engineer-to-Order (ETO) processes cannot cope with the requirements of such a product architecture. It is crucial to develop a complying Configure-to-Order (CTO) process in order to make full use of its suppled benefits. As there is no existing approach about how to methodically change an existing ETO process into an adequate CTO process, we intend to fill this gap with this paper by showing an approach for the development of a CTO process for modular product architectures. Furthermore, we show the application and evaluation of this approach in a case study with a special equipment manufacturer (SME), that is already implementing modular architectures.
This study examines the relationship between the product structuring principles chosen in modular product families and the business results of companies. In the three case studies of the article, it can be seen that products that meet the modularity definitions discussed in the literature have been able to utilise the benefits of modularity in a very varied way. In one business case, the effect of modularity on business has been negative. In two other cases, the effect has been positive - in one of these even the profitability of the business has significantly improved. The aim of this article is to identify whether product designing consistently has been following some product structuring principles previously mentioned in modularisation literature or whether case studies bring new principles to consciousness. In all case studies, the product structuring principles used are also discussed in the previous modularisation studies at a varying extent. In the discussion section, we raise the question of whether the recording and use of product structuring principles in design briefs could lead to making the product design decisions that affect the business positively.
Studies of product architecture identify a mirroring process between the product and the organisation. Parallel, empirical studies of effectual entrepreneurship show an accumulation of commitments between stakeholders while negotiating the features of the product in a similar fashion to product mirroring. This paper presents a study that looks at the effects of mirroring architectural complexity in early stages of entrepreneurship. The survey asked participants to interpret parametrically generated artefacts with the purpose of starting a new firm. Responses were analysed for complexity in the lexical semantic structure of ideas. Results show that the effects of artefact complexity are not as straightforward as hypothesised and provide evidence that suggests an important role of artefact morphology in entrepreneurial ideation. These findings support a model of product architecture mirroring that is filtered by design morphology.
A common strategy which has in many cases become a necessity in product developing companies is to apply platform thinking to some extent. Engineer-to-order (ETO) companies are firms that need to invest in a significant amount engineering time in each product ordered by customers. These companies have in the past been known to not be fully able to apply platform strategies. An area of concern to product development is the design and manufacture of machine tools aimed for part manufacturing which is a large investment and a critical bottle neck. As a response to these challenges the design platform (DP) concept was developed which is founded on the re-use of company assets. This paper aims to investigate the application of the DP in a company designing and producing unique high-pressure die casting tools for different applications and customers. To enable companies of this character to utilize platform thinking to a higher degree and thus increase the efficiency in product development, a focus is set on modelling and managing relations within the DP. In addition, a PDM system setup is proposed together with an integrated support application for the realisation in industry.
The aerospace industry experiences a considerable growth in product development costs. Many research works aim at identifying evolution laws characterizing this large-scale phenomenon and at developing design strategies which could help mitigate it. This paper aims to clarify the evolution dynamics governing this phenomenon by studying how the products delivered by these costly projects evolve with time. Increasing complexity is often held responsible for surging costs. If complexity is generally defined as the price to be paid for improving product functionalities, it is rarely specified whether the improvement affects existing functionalities or involves new ones. We aim to identify the patterns of cost growth which can be associated with phenomena of existing functionalities upgrade and new functionalities introduction, and to identify the associated design capabilities that designers need to deploy in order to keep product change and cost growth under control. To that end, we introduce a model which generates curves, each of which featuring a trend of cost growth, specific to a scenario of product evolution and being interpretable as a signature of a strategy used by designers.
Visual representation of product architecture models is crucial in complex engineering systems design. However, when the number of entities in a model is large and when multiple levels of hierarchies are included, visual representations currently in use need to be more intuitive. As such, improved visual representations that enable better system overview and better communication of essential product- related information among design participants are needed. This paper uses interactive information visualisation techniques – collapsible hierarchical tree, edge bundling and alluvial diagram – and provides the foundations of a computerised tool that improves the traceability of connections between design domains, including stakeholders, requirements, functions, behaviours and structure. The case of a cleaning robot is used as an illustrative example. The approach supports designers by providing an enhanced overview during the development of complex product architecture models, in particular in the communication with external stakeholders, in the identification of change propagation paths across several design domains, and in capturing the design rationale of previous design decisions.