A design method for product family configuration with spatial layout constraints
Hansen, John-Travis Smith
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The use of product platforms facilitates product variety and reductions in cost and lead times, enabling companies to compete in the global marketplace. A common platform allows companies to generate variety by adding, removing, or substituting modules within products to target a specific market. The product platform acts as the foundation for the technology, function, and physical arrangement, common to the entire product family. Configuration design methods are used to identify product platforms based on a set of components and their relationships in a product. From a configuration perspective, the physical locations and spatial requirements of components within a product can influence the physical layout of other members of the product family. This can lead to difficulty in obtaining the desired variety and spatial layout of components. Methods for solving configuration design problems utilizing discrete mathematics and graph theory to model configuration problems from multiple viewpoints have been developed. The current viewpoints consider neither desires of the designer in regards to variety, nor the physical requirements of the product family in later design stages. The generation of product configurations is a combinatorial and discrete problem, while physical layout is combinatorial and algebraic. Resulting in a complex problem utilizing multiple forms of mathematics. The work of this thesis seeks to address this problem through the consolidation of configuration design and object layout methods to determine the effects of configuration design decisions on component layout. The development of a design method to generate a product family with configuration constraints and the generation of common component layouts based on spatial constraints is presented in this thesis. This method facilitates product platform selection by determining if the designers' desired configurations and layouts are feasible. To demonstrate the use of the method presented in this thesis, a GUI-based software application was developed. This software implements the work of this thesis into a user-friendly program. The proposed method and the software are demonstrated through a series of examples.