In designing products and product platforms, it is essential to consider the role of technology evolution to avoid frequent redesign costs or even premature obsolescence of key components. Taking this into account in multi-generational design is referred to as planned product innovation. The existing design tools/processes fail to delineate different technologies and therefore capitalize on ways of technological change within products. This paper provides a framework for technology change analysis by identifying underlying technologies and the potential for change in their intrinsic characteristics — performance level, principle of operation, and technology architecture. Measuring the three aspects of technological change separately and comparing them to their respective forecast information yields a technology’s potential for planned innovation. The technology change framework can be applied to an initial design of the product that is anticipated to undergo planned innovation. A detailed function-structure diagram and a component-based design structure matrix of the initial product design serve as inputs to the framework and result in technology change potentials for each technology. Grouping components with similar technology change potentials (in all three aspects) into independent clusters will allow organizations to focus their development efforts on clusters that are most ripe for innovation with minimal disruption to the rest of the product. For product platform identification, the technology change framework is used to develop a set of four heuristics to identify technology-based platform elements. The set of four heuristics require that the platform elements have a low potential for change in performance level, principle of operation, and technology architecture or have standardized interfaces. Having a technology focus for product platforms is necessary as forecasting and diffusion models/studies are available at a technology level rather than at an individual component level. Localization of any anticipated platform or family changes due to technology evolution (through platform formation) will minimize redesign changes and the cascade of disruptions in each variant. Future work will focus on developing step-by-step methods for technology-based clustering of products and integrating the technology-based platform elements with other market-based and function-based platform methods to truly yield a flexible and robust product platform design method.

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