Commonality indices for product family design: A detailed comparison

Henri Thevenot, Timothy Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

174 Scopus citations


Companies today are faced with the challenge of providing as much variety as possible for the market-place with as little variety as possible between products. To achieve this, many companies are using platform-based product development to realize families of products with sufficient variety to meet customers demands while keeping costs relatively low. The challenge when designing a family of products is in resolving the trade-off between product commonality and distinctiveness: too much commonality can cause products to lack distinctiveness and perform poorly, while too little commonality can increase manufacturing costs. Toward this end, several commonality indices have been proposed to assess the amount of commonality within a product family. In this paper, a framework for redesigning a product family using commonality indices is proposed. We first compare and contrast six of the commonality indices based on their ease of data collection, consistency, sensitivity, and repeatability. Nine families of products are dissected, and the commonality of each family is then computed. This study lays a foundation for understanding the relationships between different platform leveraging strategies and the resulting degree of commonality within a product family. The framework that is then proposed gives recommendations for product family redesign using commonality indices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-119
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Engineering Design
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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