Methodical Framework for the Development of Customer-Specific Product Families based on Modular Product Structures
The megatrend of individualization requires manufacturing companies to improve the fulfillment of customer-specific requirements by their products, which will increase the success of a company, for example through competitive advantages or better customer loyalty. However, increasing external variety goes hand in hand with increased internal variety. The advantages of differentiation are offset by the increase in variant-induced complexity, which leads to higher costs overall - especially the so-called complexity costs. The only way to counteract this is to adopt the opposite strategy of standardization, which, however, does not allow products to be further differentiated or even individualized. While the development of modular product architectures already overcomes methodically variant-induced complexity for variant-rich products in the conflict between standardization and differentiation, the ideal fulfillment of customer requirements is still likely to be oversized, when completely predefined product variants are considered. Customer-specific product adaptation as a solution strategy for reducing oversizing is considered in the literature, but so far it has been considered in isolation and without any connection and integration as a possible solution strategy in the design of modular product architectures. The tension between standardization and differentiation thereby reaches a further level of consideration, where not only a decision for a standardized or variant solution must be made, but also a consideration between variant design or a design exactly adapted to customer-specific requirements. Up to now, there is no consistent methodical support for this in the literature.At this point, this project starts by developing a method that supports the design of modular product structures with customer specific modules and thus further develops the modular product architecture to a modular-customized product architecture in order to avoid oversizing in an idealized way. In the consideration of modular product architectures, which are subject to the conflicting efforts of standardization vs. differentiation, this project adds the new, contradictory efforts between differentiation vs. individualization. The new method will be developed and tested using product examples with sufficient data of other research projects.