M.S. Thesis Presentation by Christopher B. Williams
Monday, September 22, 2003

(Drs. Farrokh Mistree and David Rosen, co-advisors)

"Platform Design for Customizable Products and Processes with Non-Uniform Demand"


Offering customers variety in products has given numerous companies a valuable
competitive advantage. This transition from mass production to mass
customization has increased the need for shortened product development time.
As a result, designers are faced with the need for efficient and effective
methodologies for designing customized products.

The Product Platform Constructal Theory Method (PPCTM) was developed by Dr.
Gabriel Hernandez to facilitate the synthesis of multiple modes for managing
product variety in the development of product platforms for customized
products. Through the application of the PPCTM, the design of platforms for
customizable products is represented as a problem of access in a geometric
space. The result of the use of the PPCTM is a hierarchical organization of
the modes for managing product variety, as well as the specification of their
range of application across the product platform.

The focus in this thesis is the augmentation of this product platform design
method in order to alleviate two of its major limitations: an inability to cope
with multiple objectives, and a reliance on the assumption of uniform demand
across the market space. Specifically, three components are infused into the
formulation of the PPCTM in this thesis. Several different demand-modeling
techniques are presented in order to give a designer the power to capture and
convey multiple types of demand information for the market being analyzed. The
utility-based compromised Decision Support Problem (u-cDSP) is infused into the
multistage decision formulation stage in order to empower a designer with the
ability to make decisions in lieu of the presence of multiple objectives.
Finally, several new concepts are introduced in order to apply the augmented
PPCTM to the development of the manufacturing process of a customized product.

The resulting augmented PPCTM provides a designer with the ability to
synthesize multiple modes for managing variety in the development of both
product and process platforms for multiple objectives and for markets of non-
uniform demand. This augmented product platform design approach is tested and
verified by the application to two example problems: the design of a product
platform for the development of a line of customizable pressure vessels, and
the design of a production process platform for the manufacture of customizable
hearing aid shells.