Complex new product development requires numerous decisions by many individuals and groups, which are often geographically and temporally distributed. There is a need to share and coordinate distributed resources and synchronize decisions, and recent advances in information technology (IT) pose an untapped potential for assisting in the capture, storage, retrieval and facilitated use of product development information. We exploit IT to address this problem through the proposed approach to Product Family Planning. By sharing assets such as components, processes and knowledge across a family of products, companies can efficiently develop differentiated products and increase the flexibility and responsiveness of their product realization process. In this paper we describe our recent efforts in realizing an information management infrastructure for product family planning and platform customization. In particular, we focus on three current research thrusts to identify product platform leveraging strategies to support future product family planning: (1) an evolutionary approach to product platforming, (2) a bottom-up approach to product platforming, and (3) industry-based platform case studies. Future research directions are also outlined.

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