Design margins in industrial practice
Journal article, 2020

As products are being developed over time and across organisations, the risk for unintended accumulation and mis-conception of margins allocated may occur. Accumulation of margins can result in over design, but also add risk due to under allocation. This paper describes the different terminology used in one organisation and shows the different roles margins play across the design process and in particular the how margins are a critical but often overlooked aspect of product platform design. The research was conducted in close collaboration with a truck manufacturer between 2013 and 2018. The objective was to gain understanding of the current use of margins, and associated concepts evolve along the product life cycle, across organisation and product platform representations. It was found that margins already play an important role throughout the entire design process; however, it is not recognised as a unified concept which is clearly communicated and tracked throughout the design process. Rather different stakeholders have different notions of margins and do not disclose the rationale behind adding margins or the amount that they have added. Margins also enabled designers to avoid design changes as existing components and systems can accommodate new requirements and thereby saving significant design time.


Product Development

Empirical Studies

Platform Development

Design Margins


C. M. Eckert

Open University

Ola Isaksson

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Product Development

Safaa Lebjioui

University of Bordeaux

Christopher F. Earl

Open University

Stefan Edlund

Volvo Cars

Design Science

20534701 (eISSN)


Subject Categories


Interaction Technologies

Human Computer Interaction



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