Product platform design to improve commonality in custom products

Ronald S. Farrell, Timothy W. Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Many companies find it difficult to maintain commonality and economies of scale in products with strict customer design requirements that may vary greatly from contract-to-contract or piece-to-piece. These strict and varied requirements typically result in highly customized products that are costly to manufacture, involve small production runs, and require long delivery times. In this paper, we discuss how the strategic incorporation of product platforms into the design process can leverage the design effort of individually customized products. The example involves the design of cross-sections for yokes used to mount valve actuators in the nuclear power industry. Through this example we demonstrate the process of creating a market segmentation grid, choosing a targeted segment, creating a product platform for the yoke cross-section, and subsequently defining the yoke product family using the product platform concept exploration method. The end result is a platform-based product family that will improve response to customer requests, reduce design and manufacturing costs, and improve time to market for companies that make small production runs of highly customized products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-556
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Intelligent Manufacturing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence


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