Product Family Assessment

Publication: ResearchPh.D. thesis – Annual report year: 2010

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This thesis reports the results of a PhD project from the Technical University of Denmark. The research has been carried out in a collaborative project with the Danish company Danfoss Automatic Controls. In the global market companies are struggling to meet customers’ expectation of products that are – at a relatively low price - custom fitted to suit their exact needs and at the same time maintain a profitable business. In the pursuit of growth companies tend to focus on customer demand and market driven product development. While operating in the mass production paradigm and focusing on the cost of the single product this will in time lead to a patchwork of product variants, features, parts, and process technologies – i.e. a product family so complex that it becomes a burden in the companies’ daily operation. As a consequence there has been an increase in the number of companies that are beginning to change their focus from single products to entire product families and try to incorporate the development of product variety into a future product family. The key is to create fit between the product design and production setup. The challenge of understanding this fit and modelling dispositional relations between the existing product design and the production setup with an eye re-design the products and/or the production setup is the main topic for this research project. This research contributes with a visual modelling formalism which has its basis in the Product Family Master Plan (PFMP) presented in the work of Ulf Harlou [2006], hence the notion: PFMP2 – the extended Product Family Master Plan. The model can used to build an overview of dispositional relations between the design of a product family and the production setup. Furthermore, the model links the product design to commercial and quality aspects of the business. Hereby the model supports assessment of the elements in the product family and identification of the good solutions which can be included and the more unfortunate elements that should be avoided in a future product design. The research builds on engineering design science research literature and on the ideas of lean production, plus experiences from the industrial collaboration. The idea of waste from the lean philosophy is brought into a product variety context, and discussed in relation to product development. Verification of the model has been carried out in an industrial setting at Danfoss Automatic Controls. Furthermore, the research has been reviewed by a panel of academic researchers and industrial practitioners as well as through discussion in academic communities. The overall response to the tool has been positive and the single case study at Danfoss reports good usefulness and results.
Original languageEnglish
Publication dateApr 2010
Place of publicationKgs. Lyngby
PublisherDTU Management
Number of pages168
ISBN (print)978-87-90855-97-0
StatePublished
NamePhD thesis
Number12.2010

Keywords

  • Product family, Production modelling, Product modelling, Value stream mapping
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