A Configurable Component Framework Supporting Platform-Based Product Development
Product development in the automotive industry is a challenging task for many reasons. There is an ongoing globalization and a constant evolution in the relationships between the OEMs and their suppliers driving an almost constant stream of changes and new challenges to well-established organizations and companies. During a long period of time the automotive industry has established more and more of a mass-customized approach to its business operations. Customers require products to be almost individually tailored to their needs, expectations, and personalized statements. On the other hand, the automotive industry strives minimize costs to be competitive and profitable. Economy of scale from high volumes of common parts is a common approach to minimize product costs. A complementary approach is reuse of existing parts whenever possible. The combination of these factors drives a platform-based approach to product development. The challenge is to maintain a capability to deliver customized products while reducing the number of unique components and design solutions needed for the customization. Modularization and design for variety are approaches to create design solutions that can be used in such an environment to create the appropriate variety using a limited set of component.
This thesis argues for the need to introduce more capable product descriptions that can be used by all engineering disciplines and in a cross-functional teamwork during all lifecycle phases of the product. Given the need for product variety the core product definition must include mechanisms to define and manage this variety and enable representation of all relevant product configurations. The main contributions of the research lie in:
definition of the concept of configurable components that are presented as the elements and building blocks capable of providing the foundation for a next generation product description systems,
extension and linkage of existing design theories and methods (e.g. function-means modeling) with the proposed concept of configurable components that extends the current knowledge with mechanisms and methods to deal with variety, and
extension of the concept of configurable components to be used also for manufacturing system modeling with linkage between the product and the manufacturing system models.
The research presents an integrated framework for utilizing configurable product and manufacturing system models. The concept of configurable components, the focus on appropriate design bandwidth, and the integrated framework will improve the capability develop high variety and platform-based products with a co-optimization of variety and commonality.
13.15 Sal HA2, Hörsalsvägen 4, Chalmers, Göteborg
Opponent: Associate Professor John K Gershenson, Mechanical Engineering, MichiganTechnological University