The Open UniversitySkip to content

Investigating and Managing Design Margins throughout the Product Development Process

Lebjioui, Safaa (2018). Investigating and Managing Design Margins throughout the Product Development Process. PhD thesis. The Open University.

Full text available as:
PDF (Version of Record) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (7MB) | Preview
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


The automotive industry, like other sectors, faces a number of technological challenges in terms of meeting different legislations and developing products highly customised with a short lead time. They also have to manage the trade-offs between the price for the customer and the overall cost of the product development.

This thesis argues that design margins are a decisive factor with regard to many trade-offs that engineers may wish to make. These margins represent room for manoeuvre in the developing design. On the other hand, design margins allow engineers to accommodate new requirements without leading to costly engineering changes. If a change becomes necessary, the engineers might modify parameters where there are still margins with respect to the new requirements. Therefore engineers can avoid major redesigns to their existing components and systems. Ultimately this has the potential to enable control of the resulting development time and cost.

While margins are an intuitive concept, no clear and consistent definitions exist. The concept is relatively under-investigated area of design research. A comprehensive literature review and an empirical study at Volvo Global Truck Technology, emphasised the main issues and showed that there is a strong industrial need for support with margins, especially to understand how margins shape the design process. The concept of design margins, consisting of buffer and excess is developed. The key to managing product development is the transition from buffer to excess throughout the design process. This gives designers and engineers a rich way to express and communicate information about the forthcoming design to other team members, other teams and suppliers.

The thesis proposes a conceptual framework to investigate and capture design margins. The overall model indicates that a clear elicitation and an explicit documentation of design margins can help decision makers implement more efficiently the necessary changes involved in product development: design margins are seen as a critical aspect of product design and development

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Copyright Holders: 2017 The Author
Keywords: product design; automobile design; automobile construction; industrial design; industrial efficiency; production planning
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Engineering and Innovation
Item ID: 56663
Depositing User: Safaa Lebjioui
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2018 16:48
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2020 12:04
Share this page:

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU