Challenges for increasing component commonality in platforms
Paper in proceedings, 2011
Many companies have adopted a platform strategy to handle the trade-off between variety and standardized components in their work of developing products. Previous research has shown that a platform strategy can achieve a lot of benefits, such as shortened development cycles, reduced needs for testing, and economy of scale in producing larger numbers of reduced sets of components. However, the literature is limited in describing challenges related to platform implementation. This paper reports on a study performed within a multinational firm in the automotive industry, which is pursuing a higher commonality among its platforms. Our findings include descriptions of eight challenges to an implementation of a platform strategy. One such challenge is that a high commonality does not only risk brand distortion when marketing the product; it may also cause brand distortion on the component level in after- sales. Another challenge is that for commonality, development does not always start from scratch; a project manager pursuing increased commonality might need to involve other projects, but the commonalization might affect components already in production and after- sales. Thus, there is need for methods to make cost-benefit analyses covering the life-cycle on the component level of the platforms in development, production, and after-sales.
life cycle cost