Abstract

In many cases, capabilities for providing product variety may be enhanced efficiently and effectively by creating families of products based on product platforms. However, the actual extent of a product platform — the range of products based upon the platform — is usually determined qualitatively. We present a quantitative method for determining the number of scaleable platforms for a specific market as well as the distribution of products among multiple platforms, recognizing that multiple factors determine optimal platform extent and that these factors often conflict. We model these factors quantitatively, at either the systems level or the individual product level, using the compromise Decision Support Problem including concepts derived from linear physical programming. We apply this approach to an example study of a family of absorption chillers. Our emphasis is on the approach rather than the results, per se.

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