Over the past several decades there has been a major shift within the product development arena toward the concept of mass customization; a result of consumers wanting greater product variety, for a cheaper price, in less time. To this end, product families and platform-based design strategies have receive significant attention from both academia and industry, proving to be an efficient and effective means of designing for variety and customization.
Previously, the Product Platform Constructal Theory Method (PPCTM) has been proposed as a means of developing platforms for customizable products. The theoretical foundations of this method lie in both hierarchical systems theory and constructal theory, allowing platform design to be solved as a problem of optimal access in a geometric space. One major limitation of this method is that selection of platform variables and the modes for managing product variety are not guided by a systematic process, and are left to be determined ad hoc by the designer.
This research seeks to address this limitation and answer the question, “How can the Product Platform Constructal Theory Method be augmented to provide a systematic method for selecting common platform variables, and ranking them hierarchically?” To answer this question the author proposes to develop a method for systematically varying platform parameters and incorporate sensitivity analysis to determine the effect on the family performance. Variables can then be ranked, based on the systems sensitivity and used to determine which modes of commonization should be selected. The general goal of this research is to improve the existing product platform constructal theory method as to provide the designer with a fully comprehensive method for product platform design.