BALANCING INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL PRODUCT VARIETY IN PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
Editor: Culley, S.J.; Hicks, B.J.; McAloone, T.C.; Howard, T.J. & Lindemann, U.
Author: Graessler, Iris
Section: Product and Systems Design
Applicability of “Mass Customization” to mechatronic systems is proven by various product examples in automobile industry. For example, chassis performance is adjusted to the driver’s specific wishes or to present driving circumstances, such as road condition. As a basic principle, hardware forms functional framework while software defines specific functional contents and characteristics.
Balancing internal with external product variety emerges as critical success factor in this context. From external point of view, as much variety shall be provided as end customers are willing to pay for. From internal point of view, each product variant induces consequential costs and thus lessens profitability. In this contribution, a methodology of designing a construction kit for customer specific solutions based on classic German design theories is proposed. A modular product architecture forms the logical context of the construction kit for customer specific solutions. Deduced products are individualized by selection and connection of standardized, discretely and continuously varying components. Thus economic variation required by customers becomes feasible also on a high technical level.