Simultaneous Modularization and Platform Identification of Product Family Variants
The modularization of product architectures is one approach to minimize product complexity by decomposing complex systems into quasi autonomous modules. Furthermore, under the consideration of more than one product or variant, standardized product platform elements can be defined in order to facilitate the reduction of complexity within a product family. These modules can be seen as units, whereby each one provides a unique function necessary for the product to operate as desired. Moreover, the modularization and the definition of platform elements in product architecture enable the standardization of components and the development of product variants to meet customer-specific requirements. During the last decade much research has been done in this field and many approaches have been introduced to modularize product architectures and to enhance platform-based product development as well. They are either based on the product’s component structure or on the product’s functional structure. Nevertheless there is a lack of a systematic procedure to optimize product architectures of product family variants by identifying modules or platform elements that can be used as standards across the product family. This paper introduces an approach in order to modularize product architectures and identify product platform elements within a product family. This is carried out on a functional basis by simultaneously considering more than one product of a product family. The approach combines a systematic functional analysis approach with the Design Structure Matrix (DSM) clustering methodology.