Trading Off between Flexibility and Product Platform Constraints for Effective Technology Introduction
Licentiate thesis, 2022

Developing product platforms is an established method of reducing internal variety costs while delivering variety to customers.  A critical aspect of a platform, that is expected to be used and extended for many years, is the ability to introduce new technologies and solutions effectively. Since these technological integration endeavours may challenge platform constraints, it is necessary to be able to assess the trade-off between their expected value and cost of realisation. New technologies can be integrated more easily into products derived from product platforms if they are flexible. However, introducing flexibility early can be wasteful, both in terms of resources used for the development of the platforms and the suboptimal design of products derived from the platform.

In this study, a review of the existing literature is conducted and several case studies in the automotive sector are performed. Both technical and organizational factors are found to limit platform flexibility. This research supports the idea that the flexibility to integrate technology into existing platforms is a valuable property. Consequently, it is important to foster the ability to more objectively assess the value of proposed technology changes in organisations relying on product and production platforms.

Finally, this thesis proposes a model-based methodology to trade off the flexibility of a product platform with the lifetime value it can deliver to its stakeholders. The methodology utilizes technology roadmaps, architectural modelling, value-driven design, and model-based simulations to establish the bandwidth of a product platform. As such, the constraints that the platform introduces for future derived products are balanced against valuable flexibility, which is defined as the flexibility of the platform to allow for more alternative designs, including using new technologies, of higher value in future products. The findings of this thesis have implications for the research of product platforms and their development, as well as for practitioners making decisions about product platforms with consideration to the uncertainty around the ways they will be used and upgraded in the future.

Product Development

Systems Engineering

Technology Integration

Model-Based Design

Product Platforms


VDL, Chalmers Tvärgata 4C​​​, Campus Johanneberg, Göteborg
Opponent: Dr Christoffer Levandowski, Heart Aerospace, Sweden


Iñigo Alonso Fernandez

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Product Development

Designing Multi-Technological Resilient Objects in Product Platforms

Proceedings of NordDesign 2022: How Product and Manufacturing Design Enable Sustainable Companies and Societies,; (2022)

Paper in proceeding

Identification of Technology Integration Challenges at Two Global Automotive OEMs

Proceedings of the Design Society: DESIGN Conference,; Vol. 1(2020)p. 2245-2254

Paper in proceeding

Interactive model-based decision-making tools in early product platform design

Proceedings of the NordDesign 2020 Conference, NordDesign 2020,; (2020)

Paper in proceeding

Alonso Fernández, I., Panarotto, M. and Isaksson, O. Trade-off Analysis of Flexible Product Platform Architectures subject to Rapid Technology Introductions

VISP - Value and flexibility Impact analysis for Sustainable Production

VINNOVA (2018-02692), 2018-10-01 -- 2022-09-30.

FFI - Strategic Vehicle Research and Innovation (2018-02692), 2018-10-01 -- 2022-09-30.

Subject Categories

Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics

Other Mechanical Engineering

Environmental Management

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance




VDL, Chalmers Tvärgata 4C​​​, Campus Johanneberg, Göteborg

Opponent: Dr Christoffer Levandowski, Heart Aerospace, Sweden

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