From user requirements to commonality specifications: An integrated approach to product family design

Timothy W. Simpson, Aaron Bobuk, Laura A. Slingerland, Sean Brennan, Drew Logan, Karl Reichard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Many companies design families of products based on product platforms that enable economies of scale and scope while satisfying a variety of market applications. Product family design is a difficult and challenging task, and a variety of methods and tools have been created to support this platform-based product development. Unfortunately, many of these methods and tools have been developed-and consequently exist-in isolation from one other. In this paper, we introduce an approach to integrate several of these disparate tools into a framework to translate user needs and requirements into commonality specifications during product family design. The novelty of the approach lies in how we integrate the market segmentation grid, Generational Variety Index (GVI), Design Structure Matrix (DSM), commonality indices, mathematical modeling and optimization, and multi-dimensional data visualization tools to identify what to make common, what to make unique, and what parameter settings are best for each component and/or subsystem in the product family. The design of a family of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) demonstrates the proposed approach and highlights its benefits and limitations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-153
Number of pages13
JournalResearch in Engineering Design
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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