Design of product architectures in incrementally developed complex products

Wyatt, D.F.; Eckert, C.M. and Clarkson, P.J. (2009). Design of product architectures in incrementally developed complex products. In: International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED'09), 2009, Stanford, CA.



This paper seeks to understand how product architecture arises and influences the design process, using a case study of a UK-based diesel engine manufacturer. Product architecture is defined as a combination of functional and physical structure, including definitions of interfaces between components and spatial layout, at the overall product level. In the case study the minimisation of novelty was observed to be a major factor, causing the majority of the function structure and function-to-component mapping to be carried over from previous engines. New technologies are selected at an early stage without being integrated into complete engine concepts. Architecture-level decisions are then made implicitly when carrying over elements from previous products and when cascading product requirements to the component level. Elements of product architecture continue to be defined over much of the New Product Introduction (NPI) process, countering the expectation that product architecture should be defined during early design. These results suggest that support for product architecture design should take account of its incremental and extended nature.

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