Enhancing product architecture application in education and industrial practice

Year: 2013
Editor: John Lawlor, Ger Reilly, Robert Simpson, Michael Ring, Ahmed Kovacevic, Mark McGrath, William Ion, David Tormey, Erik Bohemia, Chris McMahon, Brian Parkinson
Author: Dittmann, Claudia; Hinsch, Malte; Schliefer, Ino; van der Beek, Johannes; Feldhusen, Jörg
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Institut für Allgemeine Konstruktionstechnik des Maschinenbaus, Germany
Section: Design Methodology
Page(s): 032-037
ISBN: 978-1-904670-42-1


Creating good product architectures is one of the keys to designing configurable and successful products. As defined by Ulrich [1], product architecture is a scheme by which the function of a product is allocated to its physical components. Since product architecture is determined in an early phase of research and development, it is crucial to provide a solid framework that leads to both comparable and innovative results. Comparable results would require a strict set of rules, which at the same time impacts creativity and innovation, thus leading to a conflict. Our long-term goal is to improve understanding and application of product architecture in education and practice by creating a standardized framework that allows both. This paper intends to show the current stages of research towards this objective at RWTH Aachen University, and should be understood as an indicator concerning the direction of future research. It summarizes the experience we gathered by teaching product architecture and captures the problems we identified with present theory. Three lab studies with a total of 216 graduate engineering students have been carried out that clearly show the need for a standardized set of rules, since the same definition of both product architecture and tasks leads to a wide range of different results.

Keywords: Product architecture, product structure, function structure, lab study


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