Efficient Means for Platform-Based Development – Emphasizing Integrated, Information-Rich System Models
Doctoral thesis, 2011
Competition in the automotive industry is fierce, which in recent years has been demonstrated by some of the companies’ struggle to survive. A significant challenge is posed by the market’s ever-increasing expectations of new and impressive products, while maintaining profitability. Mass customization, with its high volumes and economy of scale, has been an approach to combine customers’ wishes for novel individualized products and low production prices. A key feature is to reuse design solutions across products, and basing the design on so-called platforms is one way to achieve this. But reuse is not limited to the design. Resources within, for example, production, service, and marketing are to be reused when applicable. This creates a need for information exchange that, especially when parts are subject to frequent changes, cannot be based only on personal meetings. Product descriptions support co-development, when they contain the information needed by the stakeholders. Some of the expectations on the product description are that it will support all lifecycles, be understandable, and reflect the dependences between the co-developing systems.
The configurable component framework is intended to support concurrent designing of complex and variant-rich systems in all lifecycle phases. The research results presented in this thesis contribute to the enhancement of the framework in the following areas:
- They improve the developers’ ability to create design variants. The part-based description is supplemented with a more abstract description. One of the framework’s key features is to represent multiple variants by one configurable model. The mechanisms that enable this are presented here.
- Reuse can be facilitated in various ways by knowledge-rich design descriptions when information is explicitly given showing why the design is made as it is. With the introduced design rationale, implemented using a function-means model that describes the reasoning behind the design and which considerations resulted in the design, it is more likely that the design can be used and reused as intended.
- Before a new product can reach the market, its design and the production facility used to materialize it have to be completed. As these design objects depend heavily on each other, both design tasks gain from information exchange between them. To support this, an integral model for the co-development of products and production systems is presented.
- The inability of today’s product description systems to produce a complete list of parts, required to manufacture a specific product variant, reveals the need to discuss models’ completeness, consistency, and compatibility. Results are presented that extend the product description with expectations on the design, performance models, and ways to evaluate expectation against predicted behavior, beside the original design solutions.
Together, these contributions improve the configurable component framework’s ability to support a holistic product development.