Product Platform and Product Family Design: From Strategy to Implementation
Date: July 27-31, 2015 | Tuition: $4,400 | Continuing Education Units (CEUs): 3.1
*This course has limited enrollment. Apply early to guarantee your spot.
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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.
Fundamentals: Core concepts, understandings, and tools (30%)
Latest Developments: Recent advances and future trends (25%)
Industry Applications: Linking theory and real-world (25%)
Other: Product dissection/reverse engineering (20%)
Lecture: Delivery of material in a lecture format (70%)
Discussion or Groupwork: Participatory learning (20%)
Labs: Demonstrations, experiments, simulations (10%)
Introductory: Appropriate for a general audience (60%)
Specialized: Assumes experience in practice area or field (30%)
Advanced: In-depth explorations at the graduate level (10%)
The participants of this course will be able to:
- Describe the evolution of industry from craft manufacturing to mass customization and how it drives product development.
- Grasp fundamental concepts in product architecting such as customer needs identification, requirements formulation, functional decomposition as well as function-form mapping during conceptual design.
- Understand the platform concept and be able to prioritize drivers of modularity and product platform design.
- Enumerate metrics for quantifying commonality within a product family.
- Identify major contemporary methods and tools for product family and platform design.
- Describe how optimization can assist during platform and product family design.
- Discuss 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.
- Leverage platforms for identifying new market and product opportunities to generate revenue growth.
- Extract key lessons from industrial case studies.
- Participate in discussions regarding the challenges that they face in the context of their own product families of industrial and consumer products.
- Point to the latest published literature in the field.
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.
Day 1 (Full day)
Background & Motivation; Platform Definitions & Principles
2. Background and Motivation
Industrial Manufacturing Paradigms
a. Craft Production ( - 1850)
b. American System of Manufacturing (1850-1900)
c. Mass Production (1900-1960)
d. Lean Manufacturing (1960-1990)
e. Mass Customization (1990 - )
Lego Game - Round 1: Mass Production
3. Fundamental Platforming Concepts
a. Estabishing a Platform Mindset
b. Platform Definition and Approaches
c. Platform Leveraging Strategies
d. Module- and Scale-based Product Family
f. Interpretations, Advantages, Disadvantages
Interactive Exercise 1: Product Family Dissection
Day 2 (Full day with dinner)
Product Architecture & Modularity
4. Product Architecting
Methods and Tools
a. Object-Process-Methodology (OPM)
b. Design Structure Matrix (DSM)
Product/System Architecture Framework
Roles and Responsibilities of the Product/System Architect
Lego Game - Round 2: Production with Variety
5. Product Decomposition and Modularity
a. Product Architecture Decomposition
Principles of Decomposition
Examples: Automotive, Aerospace, Consumer Product
b. Modularity and Interfaces
Abstraction, Interfaces, and Product Complexity
Modularity Drivers and Styles of Interconnection
Modularity vs. Integrality
Interactive Exercise 2: Product Decompositions and DSM Mapping
Participant dinner at a local restaurant (included as part of the course)
Day 3 (Full Day)
Commonality, Platform Design & Optimization Methods and Tools
6. Product Platform: Maps & Metrics
a. Product Family Maps
b. Defining a Platform Strategy
Platform R&D Metrics
a. Advantages and Disadvantages
b. Commonality Discussion (Jigsaw Method)
c. Commonality Indices
Lego Game - Round 3: Platform-Based Production
8. Product Family Architecting
a. Single-Use Camera Example
b. Product Platform Planning
c. Generational Variety Index
d. Product Family Optimization
Interactive Exercise 3: Product Dissection and Commonality Analysis
9. Platforming Software and Services
a. Microsoft Example
b. MATLAB Example
c. Modularity and Cyclicality in Software
d. Software Architecting
Day 4 (Full Day)
Strategic Issues & Platform Flexibility
10. Platform Strategy Selection
a. Review of Financial Metrics and Discounted Cash Flow Methods
b. Product Family Strategy Selection
c. Product Families based on Multiple Platforms, Platform Extent
d. Integrated Platform Strategy Model Development
e. Case Study
11. Flexible Product Platforms
a. Motivation for Product and Platform Flexibility
b. Flexibility in Manufacturing
c. Flexible Product Platform Development Process (FPDP)
d. Case Study
e. Lego Game - Round 4: Production with User-Defined Platforms
12. Platform Strategy & Organization - Guest Lecture
a. Competitive Advantage
b. Market & Strategy
d. Management Levers
Interactive Exercise 4: Platform Redesign
Day 5 (Half Day)
Organizational Issues, Industry Trends, & Next Steps
13. Organizational Issues
a. Alignment of Product Architecture and Organization
b. Time Constants
c. Case Study for Organizational Realignment
d. To Platform or Not to Platform?
14. Industry Panel & Discussion
a. Selected Participants Invited to Serve on Industry Panel
b. Discussion: Industry Needs and Future Directions
15. Final Group Presentations
a. Product Family Overview
b. Market Segmentation
c. Commonality Analysis
d. Platform Identification
e. Observations & Suggested Improvements
16. Product Platform Textbooks & Future Reading
a. Chapter Overview
b. Ties to Course Topics
c. Recommendations for Further Reading
Open Discussion & Closing Comments
Note: Various case studies and examples are interspersed throughout the workshop 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.
Course schedule and registration times
Class runs 9:00 am - 5:30 pm on Monday, 8:30 am - 5:30 pm Tuesday through Thursday and 8:30 am - 4:00 pm on Friday.
8:30 am - 10:00 am - First Session
10:00 am - 10:30 am - Break
10:30 am - 12:00 pm - Second Session
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm - Lunch
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm - Third Session
2:30 pm - 3:00 pm - Break
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm - Fourth Session
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm - Daily Summary and Wrap-up
Laptops are required for this course. Pre-reads will be made available to participants 3-4 weeks in advance of the start of the course.
Product Manager, Ambassadors
"The subject matter was fantastic, and well taught. For me it was a tremendous learning experience as it was my first introduction to the theory behind the topics. Most importantly, the subject matter was highly relevant to my needs and interests."
Aerospace Fellow, MIT
"This course is a must for any professional who is interested in developing an effective product platform or product family. This program quickly lays foundations of system architectures and then gets into the how and why of applying those architecture concepts into a platform, module, or product family. This information also gives tools to the practitioner to develop a commonality plan, along with its rewards and challenges, for implementing for my own use."
Corporate Director - Engineering IT, Honeywell International
"Very pertinent to today's business challenges in product development."
Senior Software Engineer, General Dynamics-Advanced Information Systems
"This program helps you to appreciate another perspective to system designing. Before this program, my initial view of product platform design was based on the relationship of components and their functions. As the program progressed, I learned to realize that commonality can be defined on a number of dimensions, focusing on a number of attributes to meet a number of goals.”
systems engineer, instrumentation laboratory
"As a systems engineer I found the content to be relevant and useful to my system architecture responsibilities. Some of the methods and tools, while not new, were presented in new ways that expanded their usefulness. Methods to quantify complexity and commonality were especially useful.”
senior consultant, siemens corporation
"I think the course is a fantastic overview of product platforming and covers a broad range of concepts, methods, and tools.”
manager, development engineering, environmental solutions group
"The material was exactly what I was hoping to see. I learned about new tools that can be used for other parts of my department that will provide improvements to project deliverables in the future. It was drinking from a fire hose, but included exposure to new information that I do not believe I would have found on my own.”
About The Lecturers
Olivier de Weck
Professor de Weck is an international leader in Systems Engineering research. He focuses on how complex man-made systems such as aircraft, spacecraft, automobiles, printers, consumer products, and critical infrastructures are designed, manufactured, and operated and how they evolve over time. His main emphasis is on the strategic properties of these systems that have the potential to maximize lifecycle value. His group has developed quantitative methods and tools that explicitly consider manufacturability, commonality, flexibility, robustness, and sustainability among other characteristics. Significant results include the Adaptive Weighted Sum (AWS) method for resolving tradeoffs amongst competing objectives, the Delta-Design Structure Matrix (DDSM) for technology infusion analysis, Time-Expanded Decision Networks (TDN), and the SpaceNet and HabNet simulation environments. These methods have impacted complex systems in space exploration (NASA, JPL), oil and gas exploration (BP) as well as sophisticated electromechanical products (e.g. Xerox, Pratt & Whitney, GM, DARPA).
de Weck has authored three books and 250 peer-reviewed papers to date. He is a Fellow of INCOSE and an Associate Fellow of AIAA. Since January 2013, he has served as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Systems Engineering. In 2006, he received the Frank E. Perkins Award for Excellence in Graduate Advising followed by the 2010 Marion MacDonald Award for Excellence in Mentoring and Advising and a 2012 AIAA Teaching Award. From 2008-2011 he served as Associate Director of the Engineering Systems Division (ESD) at MIT. From 2011 to 2013 he served as Executive Director of the MIT Production in the Innovation Economy (PIE) project. He currently leads the MIT Strategic Engineering Research Group.
Timothy W. Simpson
Timothy Simpson is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University. He holds affiliate appointments in Engineering Design and the College of Information Sciences & Technology. His research interests include product family design and platform-based product development, multidisciplinary design optimization, trade space exploration, and additive manufacturing. He has over 250 publications in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings and he is the lead editor on two books, Product Platform and Product Family Design: Methods & Applications (2005) and Advances in Product Family and Product Platform Design: Methods & Applications (2013). His research has been supported by a variety of federal and state agencies, including NSF, ONR, DARPA, EDA, and DCED, as well as numerous companies, ranging from startups to multi-national corporations. He has worked with over 30 different companies to apply his research methods to improve their product lines and product development practices, and he helped establish and manages the Product Platforms Group on LinkedIn.
Simpson joined the faculty of the Pennsylvania State University in 1998. He obtained his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University in 1994 and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1995 and 1998, respectively. He was a visiting researcher at the Multidisciplinary Optimization Branch of the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA; in the summer of 1997 and spent part of fall 2002 working in the Applied Mathematics and Statistics Group at The Boeing Company in Seattle, WA. He has received numerous awards for his teaching, research, and service, including the ASME Ben C. Sparks Medal (2014), the ASEE Fred Merryfield Award (2011), and the Penn State President’s Award for Excellence in Academic Integration (2007). He is the only faculty member to have won the Outstanding and Premier Awards for both Teaching and Research Awards from the Penn State Engineering Alumni Society. He is a Fellow of ASME and an Associate Fellow of AIAA. He is a Department Editor for IIE Transactions: Design & Manufacturing, and he serves on the editorial boards of Research in Engineering Design and Journal of Engineering Design.
This course takes place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We can also offer this course for groups of employees at your location. Please contact the Short Programs office for further details.
Links & Resources
- Book launch: "System Architecture: Strategy and Product Development for Complex Systems" - MIT News May 4, 2015