An investigation carried out at a Swedish manufacturing company has focused specifically on information exchange and design support in and between activities in the company’s product family development process. The process allows, within a defined product family, automated generation of 3D models, product specifications, and a complete foundation for subsequent manufacture and verification.

The core contributions of this paper are the investigation performed, a set of identified challenges which relate to the complexity of everyday decisions made in product family development, how these challenges can be approached and a set of tools exemplifying that approach.

The study indicates that there are limitations in terms of motivation, resources and support for insight, understanding and consequent consideration to downstream implications of design decisions made. The question is whether tools and methods, which are integral aspects of the process already, might serve to further illuminate the process, maximize purposeful support and thereby minimize the efforts required to better consider downstream implications of decisions made. It is the opinion of the authors that it can, and the set of tools for information exchange and design support presented in this paper serves to exemplify how.

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