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Article

Xinsheng Xu, Tiequn Huang, Cheng Wang, Jun Yuan and Fanfan Zhu

Product variant design process consists of a series of asynchronous activities. These activities and the logic relations among them are important in constructing general…

Abstract

Purpose

Product variant design process consists of a series of asynchronous activities. These activities and the logic relations among them are important in constructing general logic workflow structure, which is the foundation of deriving an activity path for variant design business. Traditional process modeling approaches have not defined activities for product variant design and cannot describe the complex relations among these activities because of the lack of logic express elements. Thus, logic workflow structure modeling method is anticipated to meet the requirements of logic description and path generation in product variant design application. This paper aims to address these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper identifies the variant design modes of different types of parts and defines their variant design activities. The procedure of constructing general logic workflow structure of product variant design is proposed. Simultaneously, the principles of inferring logic relations among activities are put forward based on their adjacency information and connectivity probability. A general logic workflow structure of product variant design is constructed. Based on this, activity path corresponding to a variant design business can be generated. The algorithm of generating activity path is designed as well. In addition, Boolean vectors of activity path, based on the functional contour matrix of polychromatic set theory, can be inferred, which denotes the functional character of activity path.

Findings

A general logic workflow structure for product variant design has been established, which comprises variant design activities and basic process logic nodes. The logic relations among activities can be inferred based on their in-degree/out-degree and connectivity probability. The function character of activity path can also be expressed based on the polychromatic set theory.

Originality/value

The combination of variant design activity and basic process logic node makes diverse variant design business descriptions possible in a general workflow structure. The proposed approach provides evidences for designer to plan and develop product variant design system effectively.

Details

Assembly Automation, vol. 36 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-5154

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Article

Jan Holmström, Hille Korhonen, Aki Laiho and Helena Hartiala

The purpose of this article is to propose a planning process that takes into account that manufacturers of original equipment have products at different stages of the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to propose a planning process that takes into account that manufacturers of original equipment have products at different stages of the product‐life cycle, and utilizes sales and inventory information collected from distributors and retailers.

Design/methodology/approach

The research paper describes the construction and testing of a planning process.

Findings

Trials in a case company indicate that supply chain responsiveness can be improved in product launches using the proposed process. Supply chain efficiency in the maturity phase can also be improved.

Research limitations/implications

The usefulness and effectiveness of the proposed process depend on the assumption that product mix changes can be modeled and point‐of‐sales and channel sell‐through data are available regularly and reliably.

Practical implications

Modeling and monitoring the variant mix on the total market level can be used to improve supply chain responsiveness to mix changes in product launches. The introduction of this planning process reduces the need for planning in the sales units.

Originality/value

The paper shows how the quality of variant forecasting for an original equipment manufacturer can be improved with access to channel visibility in the market introduction phase.

Details

Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, vol. 11 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1359-8546

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Article

Xinsheng Xu, Jing Lin, Ying Xiao, Jianzhe Yu, Qing Liu and Jie Geng

Product variant design can only be achieved after all its constituent parts have been implemented by variant design. It is necessary to plan the sequence of part variant

Abstract

Purpose

Product variant design can only be achieved after all its constituent parts have been implemented by variant design. It is necessary to plan the sequence of part variant design reasonably. The product variant design process involves a large amount of information transfer events at the dimensional level. A reasonable product variant design process needs to make full use of the information transfer characters of parts to decrease the uncertainty of product variant design process. The existing methods of researching the product variant design process mainly focus on resource constraint and activity logic. They are deficient, however, in information transfer resolution and uncertainty management. This paper aims to address these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper identifies the number of dimension transfer paths and the position of dimension locating within a transfer path as being the key factors affecting the information transfer role of dimension. Information transfer utility is proposed to measure the information transfer capability of dimensions and parts. Based on these, a two-stage approach of generating the sequence of part variant design based on information transfer utility is proposed.

Findings

The uncertainty of dimension constraint network is minimal during the product variant design process when parts are implemented by variant design under the sequence generated through a two-stage method based on the information transfer utilities of parts, as does the times of parameter transferring and iteration in dimension constraint network.

Originality/value

Part variant design under the sequence of descending information transferring utilities can decrease the difficulty of implementing product variant design validly and also increase the efficiency. This suggests an innovative method to planning the product variant design process reasonably from the perspective of informatics.

Details

Assembly Automation, vol. 39 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-5154

Keywords

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Article

Jun Du, Yuan‐Yuan Jiao and Jianxin Jiao

Traditional production management systems are often designed to support manufacturing based on a limited number of product variants. With the emerging trend of producing…

Abstract

Purpose

Traditional production management systems are often designed to support manufacturing based on a limited number of product variants. With the emerging trend of producing customized products to meet diverse customer needs, the number of product variants increases exponentially in mass customization. In a situation of assembly‐to‐order production, production planning and control involve not only product variety, but also process variety. It is imperative to synchronize product and process variety in a coherent manner.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper discusses integrated product and production data management for assembly‐to‐order production. An integrated BOM and routing generator is proposed for the purpose of unifying BOM and assembly‐planning data in order to accommodate a wide range of product variability and production variations.

Findings

An integrated BOM and routing generator excels in variety synchronization for assembly‐to‐order production planning.

Research limitations/implications

Variety synchronization opens many opportunities for research into mass customization production. It is important to deal with not only the results of high variety production but also the causes of process variations.

Practical implications

The proposed methodology is applicable to manage high variety production like mass customization.

Originality/value

The paper proposes the variety synchronization issue in mass customization. An object‐oriented methodology is applied to manage variety of BOMs and variety of routings.

Details

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, vol. 16 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1741-038X

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Article

Luiz Felipe Scavarda, Jens Schaffer, Annibal José Scavarda, Augusto da Cunha Reis and Heinrich Schleich

The purpose of this paper is to develop a product variety multi‐market study in the auto industry and to conduct a benchmarking analysis of the practical findings against…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to develop a product variety multi‐market study in the auto industry and to conduct a benchmarking analysis of the practical findings against the theoretical ones obtained in a European Community Research Project (Intelligent Logistics for Innovative Product Technologies – ILIPT) that aims to rethink the automotive supply chain.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors conduct an exploratory research including an empirical multi‐market study, which embraces many significant passenger car models from a global vehicle manufacturer in relevant automotive markets. To provide a rich dataset, the authors utilize a combination of data collection techniques including interviews, contextual performance data and a detailed analysis of product offerings available from the vehicle manufacturer's regional web sites. This paper also shares the experience of a European Community Research Project benchmarking the results for the automobile industry.

Findings

In this paper, product variety in the auto industry is classified into four general categories. The empirical results suggest that the platform (most aggregated form of variety) follows the same logic worldwide while all the other product variety categories (in particular variants) are restricted in emerging markets and very refined in Europe. The benchmarking shows that the European variety offered exceeds the “appropriate” level of variety considered best in class by the ILIPT project while the emerging countries variety offered is below this level. This fact points to space for improvement in the product variety management of both supply chains.

Originality/value

This is a valuable empirical research study that examines the current behaviour of the auto product variety in significant markets and gives an overview where the variety is created world wide. A benchmarking analysis is also offered, which gives an idea of how far vehicle manufacturers are in terms of providing the “appropriate” level of variety.

Details

Benchmarking: An International Journal, vol. 16 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-5771

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Article

Xinsheng Xu, Tianhong Yan, Xizhu Tao, Tianrong Zhu and Dan Li

In the case of mass customization, product variety leads to exponentially increased variation in the production system. Providing flexible manufacturing solution for…

Abstract

Purpose

In the case of mass customization, product variety leads to exponentially increased variation in the production system. Providing flexible manufacturing solution for customized product rapidly is the key measure to achieve the goal of cost and delivery time. The purpose of this paper is to address these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

Following introduction, the paper describes flexible manufacturing and numerical control (NC) machining techniques in mass customization. The kernel idea is that NC program for mass customization product should be generated from parametric manufacturing information template, so as to achieve NC program variant design in accord with product variant design. The elements of NC programming system discussed in this paper address the definition of machining feature, the development of NC subprogram, template construct, and the architecture of NC programming system for mass customization product.

Findings

Machining feature, NC subprogram, and template are made to help manufacturing system to deal with the increased variation requirements resulting from product variety. The effects can be verified by the case study.

Originality/value

This paper provides a practical NC programming system for mass customization product and makes detailed technical solution to manufacturing system developer and its applications.

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Article

P.C.M. Govers and J.P.L. Schoormans

Beyond their functional utility products have a symbolic meaning. Parts of this symbolic meaning are accounted for by concepts like brand personality and product‐user…

Abstract

Purpose

Beyond their functional utility products have a symbolic meaning. Parts of this symbolic meaning are accounted for by concepts like brand personality and product‐user image, which describe the symbolic meaning associated with the brand or product class. However, the physical product also carries symbolic meaning. That part of the symbolic meaning that refers to the physical product itself, and is described with human personality characteristics, is called product personality. The purpose of this article is to show that product personality positively influences consumer preference through a congruence effect.

Design/methodology/approach

A two‐phase study was conducted. In the first phase, product‐personality congruence was measured. The second phase was used to establish user‐image congruence.

Findings

The results indicate that people prefer products with a product personality that matches their self‐image. Moreover, this positive effect of product‐personality congruence is found to be independent of the user‐image congruence effect.

Originality/value

Previous research has shown that product variants can be designed to have a specific personality. This study has shown that product‐personality congruence has a positive effect on consumer preference.

Details

Journal of Consumer Marketing, vol. 22 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0736-3761

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Article

Maria Tereza Alexandre, Olivier Furrer and D. Sudharshan

Many new products are based on new technologies, which may in turn be based on new scientific discoveries. The extant literature on new product development has focused on…

Abstract

Many new products are based on new technologies, which may in turn be based on new scientific discoveries. The extant literature on new product development has focused on how a firm may successfully commercialize new products. There is a corporate cost associated with new product failure, which extends beyond the final product‐manufacturing corporation to all the parties involved in the supply chain for the failed product. The new product development community has developed frameworks for managing the new product development process to minimize new product failure, notably by incorporating customer preferences into a cross‐functional approach to new product design and by creating a set of decision points or stage gates. The focus of these has been on the latter stages of the new product development process. Besides corporate decisions, society and its various institutions play a role in the shaping of new products from knowledge discoveries. Identifies how other participants may indeed influence the development of new products. Permits a more deliberate understanding of the possible impact of aiding or preventing a movement up the development hierarchy and so a clearer understanding of the potential benefits and opportunity costs may arise.

Details

European Journal of Innovation Management, vol. 6 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1460-1060

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Article

P.T. Helo

Product configurator is a sales and production‐planning tool that helps to transform customer requirements into bills‐of‐materials, lists of features and cost estimations…

Abstract

Purpose

Product configurator is a sales and production‐planning tool that helps to transform customer requirements into bills‐of‐materials, lists of features and cost estimations. The purpose of this paper is to introduce a method of how to analyse sales configuration models by using a design structure matrix (DSM) tool. By applying the DSM techniques, the sales configuration managers may sequence the product configuration questions and organize the connection to production.

Design/methodology/approach

First, the paper explains a sales configuration system structure from published academic and non‐academic works. These sources employ both theoretical and practical views on the topic of computer‐based sales expert systems. Second, the paper demonstrates an application of using DSM for configuration modelling.

Findings

The current sales configuration approaches include constraint‐based, rules‐based, and object‐oriented approaches. Product description methods vary, but the general problem remains the same: the configuration process should be designed in such a way that customer selections do not affect the previous selections. From the user point of view, answering the questions should be smooth and fast. In turn this will lead to the growing importance of building more effective product configuration models. DSM offers a systematic way to organise customer interface in sales configuration systems.

Research limitations/implications

This paper analyses how DSM could help in planning product configuration modelling. Comparison of different sequences is presented. The examples used are hypothetical, but illustrate the suitability of DSM analysis. Companies are trying to establish easily configured product models, which are fast, flexible and cost‐effective for adjustments and modifications. Use of DSM may help in the roll‐out of sales configuration projects. DSM may also be used as a quick view to represent the complexity of product configurability. The future needs for configuration tools will be focused towards product model management from the technical limitations of different data storage approaches.

Practical implications

Configurator software creates product variants, which are logical descriptions of physical products. Variants have parameters which describe the customer‐made selections. The parameter selections may have interconnections between the choices. Some selections may affect further selections and some combinations may not be allowed for incompatibility, cost or safety reasons. There are several commercial software packages available for creating product configurations. Product description methods vary, but the general problem remains the same: the configuration process should be designed in such a way that customer selections do not affect the previous selections. Answering the questions should be smooth and fast. Configuration of complex products, for instance, airplanes, may include several sub‐systems and have various loops within the quotation process. The use of DSM may help in the roll‐out of sales configuration projects. DSM may also be used as a quick view to represent the complexity of product configurability.

Originality/value

The paper helps both researchers and practitioners to obtain a clearer view on the development of sales configuration systems and the potential of systematic DSM‐based product model analysis.

Details

Industrial Management & Data Systems, vol. 106 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0263-5577

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Article

Hubert K. Rampersad

During recent years numerous design for assembly methods have been developed to optimize product design for robotic assembly and hence reduce assembly costs. Various…

Abstract

During recent years numerous design for assembly methods have been developed to optimize product design for robotic assembly and hence reduce assembly costs. Various bottlenecks in product design are, however, still encountered with the widespread application of robotic assembly systems. These are mainly due to a lack of integral insight into the product design variables. Discusses these variables from an integral point of view, by means of a developed assembly model.

Details

Integrated Manufacturing Systems, vol. 7 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-6061

Keywords

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