Publication Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date



In recent years firms from a range of industries have responded to growing market uncertainty by investing heavily in manufacturing flexibility. Manufacturing Flexibility is understood as process flexibility, that is a process that results from being able to build different types of products on the same production line at the same time. One benefit of manufacturing flexibility is the reduction of change over cost from building one product to another. Flexible manufacturing also relieves the problem of overcapacity, since excessive overcapacity could be avoided through the introduction of flexible manufacturing plants. Recently, firms have examined a new concept of enabling manufacturing flexibility: exploiting common design among products. The key enabler for flexible manufacturing (for Ford Motor Company) is having common vehicle architectures. Vehicles are assembled in the same way, with shared programme engineering and shared components. The idea of exploiting common designs has been extensively studied in academic literature. The main interest of those studies is the development of product platform strategies or component sharing strategies. No literature on Product Platform Development has so far recognised the potential of common design among products as a mean of enabling manufacturing flexibility. The fundamental assumption of this research is that common designs among products could reduce the investment cost of manufacturing flexibility. Among the many aspects of common designs, this research focuses on product platform development. We have assumed that manufacturing setup cost for two products are lower if the two products share the common platform. We have proposed a decision support model that comprehensively decides Product Offering, Product Platform Development, and Manufacturing Setups. We also have discussed computation procedures that could solve industry size problems within a very reasonable computation time. Finally, we have demonstrated through numerical analysis that manufacturing related parameters could be more detrimental for Product Offering/Product Platform Decision than the cost of Product Platform Development itself.


Operations and Supply Chain Management

Research Areas

Operations Management


INFORMS Annual Meeting, Denver, 24-27 October 2004

City or Country

Denver, CO, USA