Title: Continuous innovation and improvement of product platforms

Authors: Maximilian Pasche; Mats Magnusson

Addresses: Chalmers University of Technology, Division of Operations Management, Vera Sandbergs allé 8, SE-412 96 Gothenburg, Sweden. ' Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Department of Machine Design, Brinellvägen 83, SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Product platforms are applied in order to increase the stability of the product architecture and to reap benefits of scale and scope. However, many firms face a dynamic environment with quickly changing market demands. In such an environment, firms may have to continuously renew and improve their product platforms to achieve desired flexibility. The modifications comprise two types of innovations, component as well as architectural innovations. Combining these types to simultaneously achieve stability and strategic flexibility demands continuous innovation capability. This paper provides a viable approach to coordinate architectural and component innovations. The paper is based on a case study of an international truck manufacturer. Two major issues, decision-making and the management of knowledge, stand out as important for realising continuous innovation and improvement of product platforms. Moreover, product platform management needs to consider modularity and its related economies of substitution.

Keywords: continuous innovation; innovation capabilities; product platforms; decision making; knowledge management; KM; strategic flexibility; component innovations; architectural innovations; product architecture; stability; dynamic environments; modularity; continuous improvement; changing markets; market demands; platform renewal; truck manufacturers; substitution economies; trucks; Sweden; innovation management; technology management; innovation enhancement; innovation environments.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.2011.042986

International Journal of Technology Management, 2011 Vol.56 No.2/3/4, pp.256 - 271

Available online: 11 Oct 2011 *

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