Title: Merge-based design: a new method for managing variety and improving customisation

Authors: Fabrice Alizon, Callida Williams, Steven B. Shooter, Timothy W. Simpson

Addresses: Department of Mechanical Engineering, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837, USA; Keyplatform Company, 91 rue du Faubourg Saint Honore, 75008 Paris, France. ' Department of Mechanical Engineering, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837, USA. ' Department of Mechanical Engineering, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837, USA. ' The Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA

Abstract: As markets fragment, product variety management becomes critical to remain profitable. Product variety management needs to be improved continuously, especially for highly customised products that are tailored to niche markets. In this paper, we propose a novel method – merge-based design – to help manage variety in a product family. The proposed method targets the already tailored (unique) components in an effort to reduce the number of variant components in the family. Merge-based design also facilitates customisation by enabling designers to reduce the non-value-adding variety within a family. The proposed method is described and then demonstrated using a case study that involves two existing internal structures from single-use cameras. Finally, a new custom camera that uses the resulting common structure and a different exterior casing is proposed to illustrate how the method facilitates customisation.

Keywords: product families; mass customisation; variety management; commonality; merge-based design; product variety; product design; variant components; non-value added; single-use cameras.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMASSC.2009.021658

International Journal of Mass Customisation, 2009 Vol.3 No.1, pp.1 - 17

Available online: 30 Nov 2008

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