Representation of Modular and Platform-Based Products
Product development within 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 to reduce costs using almost all means. A common approach to cost reduction is striving for higher volumes of parts produced. A complementary approach is reuse of existing parts whenever possible. The combination of these three 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 components necessary. Modularization is an approach to create design solutions that can be used in such an environment to create a high variety based on a limited set of available component. The context in which this research is defined and carried out is thus in an environment dealing with variant rich, modular, and platform-based products.
The first phase of the research project presented in this thesis is concerned with how to represent such variant rich, modular, and platform-based products in an integrated product and production model that can be used throughout the development phase of the products life cycle.
This licentiate thesis summarizes the achieved results during this phase of the research project. A concept of configurable components has been developed and implemented in an operational core product description and release system at Saab Automobile. The concept of configurable components and the application is presented in the thesis along with a description of how this new concept relates to and can be integrated with previously well-established design methods and theories. The thesis is composed of a summary of the research work and four appended papers. The summary of the research work includes the scientific approach, related methods and theories, a description of results achieved, and finally conclusions and reflections on related future work.