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Flexible Product Platforms: Framework and Case Study

[+] Author Affiliations
Olivier L. de Weck

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Eun Suk Suh

Xerox Corporation, Webster, NY

Paper No. DETC2006-99163, pp. 783-799; 17 pages
  • ASME 2006 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 1: 32nd Design Automation Conference, Parts A and B
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, September 10–13, 2006
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4255-X | eISBN: 0-7918-3784-X
  • Copyright © 2006 by ASME


Customization and market uncertainty require increased functional and physical bandwidth in product platforms. This paper presents a platform design process in response to such future uncertainty. The process consists of seven iterative steps and is applied to an automotive body-in-white (BIW) where 10 out of 21 components are identified as potential candidates for embedding flexibility. The method shows how to systematically pinpoint and value flexible elements in platforms. This allows increased product family profit despite uncertain variant demand and specification changes. We show how embedding flexibility suppresses change propagation and lowers switch costs, despite an increase of 34% in initial investment for equipment and tooling. Monte Carlo simulation results for 12 future scenarios reveal the value of embedding flexibility.

Copyright © 2006 by ASME



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