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An Online Learning Tool For Product Platform Planning

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Using IT to Enhance Design Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.195.1 - 10.195.20



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Paper Authors

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Anand Srinivasan

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Steve Shooter

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Soundar Kumara

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Robert Stone

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Timothy Simpson

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Janis Terpenny

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1625

An Online Learning Tool for Product Platform Planning

Anand Srinivasan1, Janis P. Terpenny2, Steven B. Shooter3, Robert B. Stone4, Timothy W. Simpson5 and Soundar R. T. Kumara5 1 University of Massachusetts Amherst / 2Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University / 3Bucknell University / 4University of Missouri- Rolla / 5 The Pennsylvania State University


Product Platform Planning is an emerging philosophy that calls for the planned development and deployment of families of related products. It is markedly different from the traditional product development process, which focuses on optimized designs for individual products. This is a relatively new development in engineering design, which is not typically a part of an engineer’s education. Furthermore, it is different from traditional engineering topics in that it requires an integration of principles from both management and engineering design. All this makes for a new and different topic for which educational material needs to be developed. This paper presents and describes an online learning tool that includes a tutorial, cases, and a glossary in a multimedia format hosted on the Internet. The tutorial presents the basic concepts as well as current research on planning and architecting families of products. The case study section has three cases based on a family of popular power tools. The cases, of increasing complexity, present information in the form of function diagrams, assembly diagrams, individual component pictures, usage information and market segmentation data. Links are provided to helpful sites, as well as to relevant sections in the tutorial. Learning and practice activities are also presented. This paper and associated web-based materials are intended for educators interested in incorporating Product Platform Planning in the design curriculum as well as practicing design engineers and product planners in industry interested in improving their knowledge and skills in this strategic approach to product development.

1. Introduction

Mass-production started replacing craft-production as the dominant means of manufacture early in the 20th century. This allowed for previously expensive products to be priced low enough to be affordable to a large section of society. Global competition has resulted in further reduced prices. In order to stay competitive, manufacturers need to provide the exact bundle of features that each consumer wants in a product, at the lowest possible price. This is exactly the goal of mass- customization. Over the last few decades, manufacturers are providing an increasing amount of variety in their products. For example, a few decades earlier, there were only a few basic types of vehicles: sedans, sports cars, trucks and station-wagons. Today, there are new kinds of body styles, such as SUVs, mini-vans, crossovers (e.g., a cross between an SUV and a truck), etc. And for each type of vehicle, there is a plethora of options for the consumer.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Srinivasan, A., & Shooter, S., & Kumara, S., & Stone, R., & Simpson, T., & Terpenny, J. (2005, June), An Online Learning Tool For Product Platform Planning Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14516

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