Platform and Product Family


A course titled, "Product Platform and Product Family Design: From Strategy to Implementation," Cambridge, MA, 18-2 Jun 2007

Product Platform and Product Family Design: From Strategy to Implementation
June 18-22, 2007 MIT Campus – Cambridge, MA ********************************************************************************

Course Summary

This course explores how product architecture and platforms 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. 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.

Learning Objectives

The participants of this course will be able to: 1. Describe the evolution of industry from craft manufacturing to mass customization and how it drives product development. 2. Grasp fundamental concepts in product architecting such as customer needs identification, requirements formulation, functional decomposition as well as function-form mapping during conceptual design. 3. Understand the platform concept and be able to prioritize drivers of modularity and product platform design. 4. Enumerate metrics for quantifying commonality within a product family. 5. Identify major contemporary methods and tools for product family and platform design. 6. Describe how optimization can assist during platform and product family design. 7. Discuss strategic issues such as platform portfolio optimization, embedding flexibility in product platforms and the organizational impact of platforms. 8. Leverage platforms for identifying new market and product opportunities to generate revenue growth. 9. Extract key lessons from industrial case studies. 10. Participate in discussions regarding the challenges that they face in the context of their own product families of industrial and consumer products. 11. 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.

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