Product Platform and Product Family Design: From Strategy to Implementation
This course explores how product architecture, platforms, and commonality can help a firm deploy and manage a family of products in a competitive manner. We will examine both strategic as well as implementation aspects of this challenge.
A key strategy is to develop and manufacture a family of product variants derived from a common platform and/or modular architecture. Reuse of components, processes, and design solutions leads to advantages in learning curves and economies of scale, which have to be carefully balanced against the desire for product customization and competitive pressures. Additionally, platform strategies can lead to innovation and generation of new revenue growth by intelligently leveraging existing brands, modules, and sub-system technologies. We will present the latest theory as well as a number of case studies and industrial examples on this important topic. We will engage the course participants through interactive discussion and hands-on activities. Recent strategic issues such as embedding flexibility in product platforms as well as the effect of platforms on a firm's cost structure, organization, and market segmentation will also be presented.
- Describing the evolution of industry from craft manufacturing to mass customization and how it drives product development.
- Grasping fundamental concepts in product architecting such as customer needs identification, requirements formulation, functional decomposition as well as function-form mapping during conceptual design.
- Understanding the platform concept and be able to prioritize drivers of modularity and product platform design.
- Enumerating metrics for quantifying commonality within a product family.
- Identifying major contemporary methods and tools for product family and platform design.
- Describing how optimization can assist during platform and product family design.
- Discussing strategic issues such as platform portfolio optimization, embedding flexibility in product platforms, the organizational impact of platforms as well as strategy selection based on net present value calculations.
- Leveraging platforms for identifying new market and product opportunities to generate revenue growth.
- Extracting key lessons from industrial case studies.
- Participating in discussions regarding the challenges that they face in the context of their own product families of industrial and consumer products.
- Pointing to the latest published literature in the field.
Day 1: Platform Definitions & Principles
Course Overview and Introduction
Fundamental Platforming Concepts
- Establishing a Platform Mindset
- Platform Definition and Approaches
- Platform Leveraging Strategies
- Module- and Scale-based Product Family Examples
- Interpretations, Advantages, Disadvantages
Lego Game - Round 1: Mass Production
Interactive Exercise 1: Product Family Dissection
- Product Families and Product Platforms
- Platform Benefits
- Platform Investments
Day 2: Architecting Platforms
- Over-design in Platforms
- Design Structure Matrix (DSM)
- Roles and Responsibilities of the Product/System Architect
Exercise: Architecting a Sailplane
Lego Game - Round 2: Production with Variety
Product Decomposition and Modularity
- Principles of Decomposition
- Examples: Automotive, Aerospace, Consumer Product
- Modularity and Interfaces
Interactive Exercise 2: Product Decompositions and DSM Mapping
Industry Panel & Discussion
- Selected Participants Invited to Serve on Industry Panel
- Discussion: Industry Needs and Future Directions
Participant dinner at a local restaurant (included as part of the course)
Day 3: Measuring Platforms
Product Platform: Maps & Metrics
- Product Family Maps
- Defining a Platform Strategy
- Advantages and Disadvantages
- Commonality Discussion (Jigsaw Method)
- Commonality Indices
Lego Game - Round 3: Platform-Based Production
Product Platform Architecting
- Single-use Camera Example
- Product Platform Planning
- Generational Variety Index
- Product Family Optimization
Interactive Exercise 3: Product Dissection and Commonality Analysis
Day 4: Managing Platforms
- Divergence Behaviors and Causes
- Management Levers for Platforms
- Technical, Financial, Organizational alignment
Management Case (Exercise)
Lego Game - Round 4: Competition
Two-sided Market and Platforms
- Network effects
- Identify the “Sides” to a Platform Market
- Competing in Industry Platforms
Day 5: Extending Platforming
Platforming Software and Services
- Microsoft Example
- MATLAB Example
- Modularity and Cyclicality in Software
- Software Architecting
Final Group Presentations
Motivation for Product and Platform Flexibility
- Flexibility in Manufacturing
- Cousin Parts
- Modular Tooling
- Postponement Strategy
- Flexible Product Platform Development Process (FPDP)
Awarding of Course Certificates
Note: Various case studies and examples are interspersed throughout the course to highlight concepts or emphasize applications of platforms. Among the examples are the following: Consumer products such as Black & Decker: electrical power tools; Sony: Walkman; Lutron: lighting systems; and vehicles such as Boeing: commercial aircraft; and VW, GM: cars. Industrial equipment and facilities: BP oil & gas exploration, NASA spacecraft and launch vehicles.
Who should attend
This course is targeted towards executive decision makers, product managers, marketing managers, product line strategists, product architects, as well as platform and systems engineers in industrial and government contexts. Such individuals will have to strategically position their products and systems in a competitive marketplace and define modular and scalable product architectures, utilizing standardization, commonalization, customization, and platform leveraging strategies to maximize cost savings while increasing the capability to offer a variety of customized systems and products. A basic background in mechanical and/or electrical engineering, as well as some business and accounting experience, is beneficial but not required.