Articles

Platform re-use lessons from the automotive industry

S. BEN MAHMOUD-JOUINI, S. Lenfle

International Journal of Operations and Production Management

2010, vol. 30, n°1, pp.98-124

Departments: Information Systems and Operations Management, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Keywords: Automotive industry, New products, Product design, Product development, Project management


Purpose ' The platform strategy adopted by firms in a multi-project context reduces lead-time and development cost, enhances reliability, allows mass customization and increases manufacturing flexibility. While the major challenges of this strategy have been highlighted, the evolution of the platform and its management during its lifecycle is under studied. The paper address this missing point by considering the sustainability of the platform during its life cycle.The platform strategy adopted by firms in a multi-project context reduces lead-time and development cost, enhances reliability, allows mass customization and increases manufacturing flexibility. While the major challenges of this strategy have been highlighted, the evolution of the platform and its management during its lifecycle is under studied. The paper address this missing point by considering the sustainability of the platform during its life cycle. Design/methodology/approach ' For that purpose, the paper has carried out a field methodology research at a car manufacturer six years after the successful setting of the platform strategy. It analyzes at a fine-grained level the development of a second generation product on this existing platform. Findings ' Using a model that traces the design decisions taken during this development, it has identified that, in order to reuse the platform over two generations, the engineers implicitly apply, besides the design rules that correspond to the very definition of platform strategy as presented in the literature such as the carry-over and the lean design, a learning routine that challenges these rules. It designates this routine by 'smart reuse' because it enables the reuse of the platform from one generation to another. It highlights the interplay between the products and the platform that co-evolve by pointing out the reciprocal prescription relationships. This co-evolution operates through two levels: between the product planning and the platform on one hand and the product development and the platform on the other. Practical implications ' The paper has several implications, such as the central role of the platform director in the platform reuse and the platform architecture, mainly its modularity, and its impact on the platform progressive renewal. This research reveals ideas that need to be validated and tested through other methods and in other industrial contexts. Originality/value ' The paper offers insights into platform-re-use, focusing on the automotive industry.


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