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Analytical Framework to Define Product Architecture

[+] Author Affiliations
Karthik Manohar, Kurt Beiter

Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Jeffrey Abell, Dennis Gonzales

General Motors Company, Warren, MI

Paper No. DETC2010-29167, pp. 285-291; 7 pages
  • ASME 2010 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 6: 15th Design for Manufacturing and the Lifecycle Conference; 7th Symposium on International Design and Design Education
  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada, August 15–18, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4414-4 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3881-5
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME and General Motors Company


Product design over the past few decades has moved towards shorter life cycles, shorter design cycles while simultaneously having to satisfy multiple market segments. Global companies have responded to this challenge by designing products based on architectures, to meet these new market requirements. However, designing products based on architecture levies a significant tradeoff penalty on the derivative variants when compared to custom requirement-specific design. All derivative variants sharing the common architecture will have to carry the engineering weight of the variant with the most stringent performance requirements. This makes architecture definition a crucial step in achieving market success. The architecture definition process has three primary steps: architecture bandwidth definition, determining the number of variants and definition of the bandwidth of each variant. A study of the current architecture definition process in a large automobile manufacturer determined that the bandwidth and variant decision making process was entirely manual and dependant on the skill & experience of the personnel involved. This paper defines a math-based framework to define, determine and visualize the entire solution space of product variants in an individual architecture. A case study was built around a midsize vehicle architecture; with elemental physics and dynamics determining the performance attributes of each variant solution. A commercial simulation solution provided the marketshare simulation, for all the potential virtual vehicles in the solution space, providing a connection for engineering requirements to market performance. This paper begins with a brief overview of the architecture design space, walks through an analytical framework to define product architecture, and finally, future steps for this line of research.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME and General Motors Company



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