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Journal of Intelligent Manufacturing

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 115–126 | Cite as

Flexible platform component design under uncertainty

  • Eun Suk Suh
  • Olivier de Weck
  • Il Yong Kim
  • David Chang
Article

Abstract

Incorporating flexibility into product platforms allows manufacturers to respond to changing market needs with a minimal increase in product family complexity and investment cost. To successfully design a flexible product platform, proper design of flexible platform components is critical. These components can be described as “cousin” parts as they are neither completely unique nor completely common among variants. In this paper, a multidisciplinary process for designing flexible product platform components is introduced, assuming the platform component is decided a priori. The design process starts with identification of uncertainties and generation of multiple design alternatives for embedding flexibility into the component. Design alternatives are then optimized for minimum cost, while satisfying the component performance requirements. The flexible designs are then evaluated for economic profitability under identified uncertainty, using Monte Carlo simulation. At the end, the most profitable flexible component design is selected. The proposed design process is demonstrated through a case study, in which different flexible designs are generated and optimized for an automotive floor pan, an essential element of most vehicle product platforms. Results suggest that the way in which the flexibility is incorporated in the component, production volume trends, and the degree of built-in flexibility are important factors to consider when designing flexible product platforms.

Keywords

Product platform Flexibility Uncertainty 

Nomenclature

c

Total unit cost of the component

ca

Unit assembly cost of a component

cf

Unit fabrication cost of a component

C

Total variable cost for a design alternative

CF

Cash flow

Dh

Historical demand

Do

Initial demand

E[D]

Expected demand

E[NPV]

Expected net present value

F

Set of economic variables

J

Set of performance variables

kL

Total line investment cost

kT

Total tooling investment cost

K

Total capital investment cost

L

Length of the floor pan

M

Mass of the floor pan

NPV

Net present value

NS

Number of simulation runs

p

Number of uncertain parameters

q

Number of component variants

r

Discount rate

T

Lifetime of the product platform

TF

Total number of future time periods

TH

Total number of historical time periods

u

Individual uncertainty

U

Set of uncertainties

v

Individual design alternative

V

Set of design alternatives

w

Number of welding connections

xL

Geometric design vector for long floor pan

xs

Geometric design vector for short floor pan

Y

Total number of design alternatives

α

Drift coefficient

ε

Random variable ~N(0,1) normally distributed

δ

Bending stiffness

σ

Volatility coefficient

τ

Torsional stiffness

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eun Suk Suh
    • 1
  • Olivier de Weck
    • 1
  • Il Yong Kim
    • 2
  • David Chang
    • 3
  1. 1.Engineering Systems DivisionMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical and Materials EngineeringQueens UniversityKingstonCanada
  3. 3.General Motors R & DWarrenUSA

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