Accommodating Emerging Technologies in Existing Product Platforms
Paper in proceedings, 2015
For many companies, proficiency in introducing new technologies is central to their business. For instance, for suppliers in the aerospace industry, having extensive knowledge about a specific technology can be crucial for getting to take part in the next airplane project. However, when new technologies emerge as a result of advanced engineering, they are often hard to implement in product platforms. The fragile nature of a working platform originates from the complex relationships between subsystems and variants. Introducing a new technology into the already fine-tuned platform may affect the performance of the platform negatively, or generate a too large development effort to handle. This may lead to reluctance towards introduction of new promising technologies, which in the long run may result in technologies being discarded as infeasible or being introduced much later than necessary.
To be able to assess the impact of a technology and safely accommodate it in an existing platform architecture, it needs to be modeled appropriately. Current models of technologies do not describe them in relation to the architecture they are to be implemented in. Further, the common platform architecture models describe change scenarios from a top-down perspective. Technology introduction would require changing the platform from a bottom-up perspective.
This paper suggests an approach to accommodate introduction of emerging technologies into a product platform by means of:
- Modeling the technologies as systems in a shared model.
- Using trade-off curves to describe the bandwidth of technologies.
- Introducing a method for changing a present product platform to incorporate new technologies
The method addresses a number of different factors regarding the new technology, e.g. its maturity level, in order to assess the appropriate course of action to safely use the technology in the existing platform. The approach is illustrated using a case from the aerospace industry covering the implementation of water-cooling technology as a means to increase the performance of a jet engine component.