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About this book

The development of modular product families holds enormous economic potential for companies, as there are always great opportunities but also risks associated with all life phases of a product. However, these fundamental and far-reaching effects inevitably lead to conflicting objectives when defining modular product structures, which makes decision-making in product development particularly complex.Considering relevant theories from decision theory and product family design, this book presents an innovative method to support decision makers in the development of modular product families. The central element of the method is a novel Modularity Decision Dashboard (MDD), which interactively visualizes all decision-relevant data. The findings presented here confirm that applying the method to real-world decision-making problems leads to a more balanced ratio between internal and external variety, and thus significantly contributes to the efficient economic benefit of modularization.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
With this introductory chapter the underlying problem of decision-making in the context of modular product families is described. The chapter also provides an overview of the objectives of the work, the general research context, and the structure as well as the contributions of the different chapters.
Marc Windheim

Chapter 2. Challenges of Modular Product Structure Decision-Making: A Descriptive Study

Abstract
This chapter describes the descriptive study of the work. The aim of this analysis is to investigate ten case studies in two manufacturing companies in which a decision situation in relation to modular product families has led to far-reaching consequences along the product life-phases. For this purpose, the effects of modularization, affected stakeholders and their conflicts of interest are explored in more detail. The chapter further contains a consolidated impact model of modularization that relates internal and external variety to relevant business KPIs. At the end of the chapter, the main challenges extracted from the case studies are described. In addition, five essential imperatives and a framework for effective decision-making in the development of modular product families are presented.
Marc Windheim

Chapter 3. State of the Art in Product Family Design and Evaluation

Abstract
This chapter describes the theoretical foundations as well as the current state of research in the areas of product family design and the evaluation of modular product structures. Thus, basic product architecture strategies, such as variant management, modular product family design and platform design, are presented. The research approaches are divided into the areas structural indicators, costing methods, universal methods and comprehensive methodologies which are subsequently evaluated against the previously postulated imperatives of effective decision-making. The chapter concludes with implications for an effective method to support decision situations in the context of developing modular product families.
Marc Windheim

Chapter 4. Decision-Making in Modular Product Family Design

Abstract
The theoretical bases from the decision theories are outlined in this chapter. Therefore, essential basics of decision theory are presented, and fundamental models of decision theory are briefly explained. First, the essential foundations of normative and descriptive decision theory are described. Based on this, decision rules for decisions under complete uncertainty as well as probabilistic uncertainty (risk) are presented. It is further demonstrated that group decisions are inherent processes in product development and that especially the evaluation of modular product structures is a process of cooperative decision-making. Based on this, the gap in research is finally described by linking the shortcomings arising from empirical observation, the imperatives of effective decision-making, and the contribution of the approaches from the literature and subsequently comparatively evaluating them.
Marc Windheim

Chapter 5. A Method to Support Cooperative Decision-Making in Product Modularization

Abstract
The following chapter presents a new method, including an innovative Modularization Decision Dashboard (MDD) as well as the corresponding process to prepare the MDD and to guide trough the decision process. Decisions in the context of product structures are systematically supported by means of the presented process model. This four-phase process model ensures that all relevant aspects and all decision-relevant KPIs are taken into account. The core of the method is a dashboard that visualizes all decision-relevant aspects. The description is both generic and based on a practical industry example. In addition to the description of the objectives of the method, the target group of the method is described. Besides general information about the study design, the elaborations include the implementation of the method into established approaches of modular product family design.
Marc Windheim

Chapter 6. Validation of the Method

Abstract
This chapter comprises the validation of the method. The aim of the validation is to provide empirical evidence for the results presented. Therefore, the impact model of the research is presented, supplemented by a corresponding hypothesis for the supporting effect of the method. This chapter also describes the research design for the validation study, the application of the method including the Modularization Decision Dashboard and concludes with a critical reflection on these results and their generalizability.
Marc Windheim

Chapter 7. Conclusion

Abstract
This chapter concludes the main results of this work. The contribution to the normative and empirical research of the work is summarized and brought into a general research context. Furthermore, the chapter contains an outlook on promising future research fields for decision-making of modular product families.
Marc Windheim

Backmatter

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