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Design Science Journal
Theses repository

Product Platform Modelling

Contributions to the discipline of visual product platform modelling

Product Platform Modelling

Year: 2010

Author: Pedersen, Rasmus

Supervisor: Mortensen, Niels Henrik; McAloone, Tim

Institution: DTU Management Engineering, Department of Management Engineering, Technical University of Denmark

Pages: 324

ISBN: 978-87-90855-48-2

Abstract

This PhD thesis has the title Product Platform Modelling. The thesis is about product platforms and visual product platform modelling.
Product platforms have gained increasing attention in industry and academia in the past decade. The reasons are many, yet the increasing globalisation and the change in the global economy seem to be major factors. Manufacturing companies have experienced an intensifying competition and many companies face increasing demands for reductions in costs and lead times in development and production. At the same time many customers have raised their demands for customisation of products. In many companies these changes in the business environment have created a controversy between the need for a wide variety of products offered to the marketplace and a desire to reduce variation within the company in order to increase efficiency.
Many companies use the concept of product platforms to overcome this challenge of balancing the external and internal performance demands. Product platforms are found in many different instantiations in various industries and companies, and the concepts and challenges are likewise diverse.
This PhD thesis documents a research project with two main purposes; First, various phenomena related to product platforms are investigated and secondly it is investigated how some of these phenomena can be visually modelled in order to support decision making in industrial platform projects.
The investigation of platform phenomena is based on the notion that reuse and encapsulation of platform elements are fundamental characteristics of a product platform. Reuse covers the desire to reuse and share certain assets across a family of products and/or across generations of products. Product design solutions and principles are often regarded as important assets in a product platform, yet activities, working patterns, processes and knowledge can also be reused in a platform approach. Encapsulation is seen as a process in which the different elements of a platform are grouped into well defined and self-contained units which are decoupled from each other. These groups can be varied and combined to form different product variants without increasing the internal variety in the company. Based on the Theory of Domains, the concept of encapsulation in the organ domain is introduced, and organs are formulated as platform elements. Included in this introduction is a discussion of the dispositional effects of organ and wirk element encapsulation. Unlike most present perceptions of platforms and modularity, the concept of organ encapsulation makes it possible to describe the system characteristics of a product platform in which reuse and encapsulation effects are obtained without necessarily introducing standardised physical interfaces between the varying elements.
By means of three industrial cases, in the companies Danfoss, Grundfos and Aker Solutions, it is discussed and exemplified how some of the phenomena and effects related to reuse and encapsulation can be visually modelled during product platform projects. A fundamental hypothesis in this project is that decision makers and important stakeholders have to be able to see the platform in order to manage it. Consequently, the thesis also investigates how visual models of important phenomena can support decision makers during a product platform project. The reaction from stakeholders in the case companies indicates that the decision base is improved by means of visual models. Another finding is that the sometimes rather theoretical and intangible phenomena can be instantiated in models and thereby made tangible and visual for decision makers and designers in the organisation.

Dansk resumé
Denne afhandling har titlen Modellering af Produktplatforme og berřrer emnerne produktplatforme og visuel modellering af produktplatforme.
Produktplatforme er i stigende grad genstand for interesse i industrien. Der er mange grunde hertil, men den řgede globalisering og den tilhřrende ćndring i den globale řkonomi er en ganske betydelig drivkkraft. Industrielle fremstillingsvirksomheder oplever en tiltagende aggressiv konkurrence, hvori kravene til reducerede omkostninger og gennemlřbstider i udvikling og produktion bliver skćrpede. Samtidig krćver mange kunder i stigende grad individualiserede produkter. Mange virksomheder stĺr derfor i et spćndingsfelt mellem řnsket om at udbyde mange forskellige produktvarianter til markedet samtidig med behovet for at reducere den interne kompleksitet i organisationen, hvilket mange gange er en forudsćtning for at reducere netop omkostninger og gennemlřbstider.
En strategi baseret pĺ produktplatforme er for mange virksomheder et middel til at imřdegĺ udfordringen i at balancere kravene til ekstern produktvarians med řnsket om at reducere intern kompleksitet. Produktplatforme findes i mange forskellige former, afhćngig af virksomhed, industri, produkttype og formĺl, og udfordringerne forbundet hermed er ligeledes ganske mangeartede.
Denne ph.d.-afhandling dokumenterer et forskningsprojekt med to overordnede formĺl: For det fřrste undersřges og skildres forskellige fćnomener, der relaterer sig til produktplatforme. For det andet beskrives det, hvorledes nogle af disse fćnomener kan modelleres visuelt, sĺledes at grundlaget for beslutningstagning i industrielle platformsprojekter kan styrkes.
Undersřgelsen af forskellige fćnomener baserer sig pĺ den tanke, at genbrug og indkapsling er fundamentale karakteristika for en produktplatform. Genbrug dćkker over řnsket om at genbruge og dele forskellige aktiver mellem produkter i en produktfamilie og/eller pĺ tvćrs af produktgenerationer. Produktkoncepter, konstruktioner og konstruktionsprincipper, opfattes ofte som oplagte kandidater til genbrug i en produktplatform, men aktiviteter, arbejdsprocedurer, forskellige former for viden kan ogsĺ vćre en del af en produktplatform. Indkapsling er et generelt systembegreb og dćkker over en process hvorunder de elementer, der skal forme platformen, grupperes i veldefinerede og selvstćndige enheder, der er dekoblet fra hinanden. Disse grupper af elementer kan varieres og kombineres og bruges til at skabe forskellige produktvarianter uden at den interne variation i virksomheden behřver at stige. Med udgangspunkt i Domćneteorien introduceres idéen om indkapsling i organ domćnet, og organer opfattes
herved som elementer i en produktplatform. En del af denne introduktion omfatter en diskussion af de dispositionelle effekter af indkapsling af organer og wirk elementer. I modsćtning til de fleste eksisterende opfattelser af produktplatforme og modularisering, kan man med wirk element indkapsling forklare, hvorfor nogle produktplatforme tilsyneladende har success med indkapslings- og genbrugseffekter uden nřdvendigvis at introducere fysiske grćnseflader i platformen.
Med tre industrielle eksempler fra virksomhederne Danfoss, Grundfos og Aker Solutions, diskuteres og eksemplificeres, hvorledes nogle af de ovenstĺende fćnomener, der relaterer sig til genbrug og indkapsling, kan modelleres visuelt i lřbet af et produktplatformsprojekt. Der arbejdes ud fra den fundamentale hypotese, at beslutningstagere og vigtige parter i virksomheder mĺ kunne se platformen for at kunne bestyre den. Derfor berřrer afhandlingen ogsĺ, hvorledes visuel modellering af nogle af disse vćsentlige fćnomener, kan styrke denne beslutningstagning. Reaktionerne fra de involverede virksomheder indikerer, at visuelle modeller styrker evnen til at trćffe beslutninger om produktplatforme. Et andet resultat fra studierne viser, at de til tider ganske teoretiske og uhĺndgribelige fćnomener, der fřlger i křlvandet pĺ et platformsprojekt, kan gřres synlige og hĺndgribelige ved brug af visuelle modeller.

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Design Science Journal