M.S. Thesis Presentation by Jesse Peplinski

(Dr. Farrokh Mistree, advisor)

"Product Design and Manufacture: A Systems Approach"


From a traditional engineering design perspective, a successful product design is one that meets its customers' needs while also being cost-effective. Of course, in a competitive manufacturing environment these requirements are not enough. Competitors will eventually offer similar products at lower prices, and new and innovative products will eventually be introduced that render existing products obsolete. To succeed in such an environment designers need to see the big-picture view of all of their firm's design and manufacturing activities. They need to understand how the activities interact, and they must be able to evaluate how each activity affects the cost and performance of the product. They also need a keen awareness of their competitors' strengths and weaknesses. Armed with this information, they can make the tough strategic decisions such as when to forge in new directions, and when to sacrifice components and products to the competition.

My objective in this research is to develop tools and methods that will support the creation, evaluation, and modification of such big-picture views. These views will be used in a design and manufacturing management framework for the formulation and implementation of competitive strategy. Creating these views requires modeling schemes for products, design processes and manufacturing processes that identify the important elements or activities of each and capture their interactions. Evaluating these models will establish relationships between n management control factors (available resources, organizational context, etc.) and measurements of success (product performance, process efficiency). In other words, the notion of designing is addressed at two separate levels: the lower level is designing a particular product, and the higher level is designing the firm itself, embodied by formulating and implementing strategy. Through this process the design and manufacturing processes are designed, as well as the resource mix and the organizational context.