Customer satisfaction is key for survival and success in today’s consumer market. It is crucial that the customer be used to differentiate between different variants of a product, also known as a company’s product portfolio. Numerous examples in industry prove the benefit of a platform strategy in product development. The aim is to capture a wider market share by launching a number of products based on a common platform and to reduce design and development cost by reducing design cycle time. In this paper we explore the possibility of using high level customer needs alone to define the product’s base platform and differentiating modules. The basic idea is to outline platform and differentiating modules during conceptual design stage of product development and thus plan a product family before we consider any architecture. Planning platforms in conceptual design stage reduces additional costs associated with designing, manufacturing and managing resources for each variant separately. We use design tools such as the functional basis and functional modeling in our approach. In this work we seek to validate the technique by first applying it to existing products and comparing the results against known product platforms. In this paper we outline platform and differentiating modules for a bike and shop vacuum. Future work will focus on applying this approach for more products and finally to new products during conceptual design stage.

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