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Configuration of Platform Architectures in Construction
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering, Structural and Construction Engineering.
2014 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Construction is often defined as a project-oriented industry that develops complex one-of-a-kind products using an engineer-to-order (ETO) design process. The technical solutions that are developed in specific projects often have integral product architectures that are difficult to re-use in continuous improvement processes. The ETO process also means that very few components can be produced before being ordered, which is necessary for creating economies of scale in production. In contrast, Modify-To-Order (MTO) Configure-To-Order (CTO) or Select variant-To-Order (STO) design processes based on theories of mass customization reuse technical solutions from earlier projects to varying degrees. However, many researchers argue that results and theories from the manufacturing industry cannot be used in the contexts of construction because each construction project has different functional requirements and local site conditions whose interaction mandates the creation of unique end products that cannot be modularized as is done in manufacturing industries. The purpose of this thesis was to investigate how mass customization principles could be utilized in the design of construction products, especially how the adoption of platform architectures and configurators could support the reuse of technical solutions between projects. Several case studies of projects using different specification levels (MTO, CTO and STO) were conducted to test theories of mass customization in the context of construction. The results obtained show that when working at the MTO and CTO specification levels, platform architectures should be based on modules that can be developed incrementally. STO products can be developed with integral product architectures, but if the needs of customers in the target market segment change this presents a risk of ad-hoc end product customization that will adversely affect the production system downstream in the value chain. For all studied specification levels, it is important to determine whether the target market volume is sufficient to justify the cost of developing a product platform. The introduction of design modules in modular platform architectures enables the development and use of configurators in ETO construction design processes. Such tools allow MTO platforms to be customized using a mixture of traditional ETO design and the configuration of predefined modules. Configuration tools for module customization at the MTO and CTO levels must therefore be integrated with the traditional design tools used in construction. The configuration of modular platform architectures also facilitates the effective use of information and its transfer between domains. As the use of pre-defined modules in the product specification process increases, the need to involve multiple design disciplines decreases. At the STO level, the design work can be reduced to such an extent that customization can be achieved using web-based configurators.Overall, the results presented in this thesis indicate that the Products in Product mass customization concept introduced by Erixon (1998) can be implemented at multiple specification levels in the traditional design of construction products. By introducing the new design module category into the platform architecture, predefined construction product platforms can be integrated with the traditional ETO design process and developed incrementally.

Abstract [en]

Construction is often defined as a project oriented industry developing complex one-of-a-kind products in an engineer-to-order (ETO) driven process by temporary organizations. That is resulting in a fragmented design process with loose connection between different disciplines. Many studies indicate that the early stages of product development is critical for product constructability, but technical solutions that are developed in specific projects lead to integral product architectures that are difficult to re-use in a continuous improvement process. The ETO process also means that very few components can be produced before ordering, a prerequisite for creating economies of scale in production. By changing the product realization process to "modify- to-Order" (MTO), "configure- to-order" (CTO) or "select variant" (STP), which is based on the theories of mass customization, technical solutions can be reused between the specific projects. However, several researchers in the construction industry proclaim that the contexts of construction industry cannot be compared with other industries and products. The variation of interacting functional requirements creates unique end products that cannot be separated in similar way as in the manufacturing industry. Arguments are based on the uniqueness of the end products that is analysed with regards to the highest level in the product architecture, which is why a more nuanced view is required.Mass Customisation can be described as an approach to combine economies of scale from mass production with increased customization for the end customer. To successfully achieve this, the generic product architecture need to be based on a modular architecture with clear separation between functional requirements (FR) and design parameters ( DP) and well-specified interfaces between the modules. Selected market segment affects the demand for product customization relatively the order point and thus affects its product realization process; MTO, CTO and STP, whereupon the selected specification level also affects the generic product architecture with its product platform and how the customization can be done. The purpose of this thesis is to describe whether and how mass customization can be used in the construction industry by describing the relationships between product architectures and the specification levels.Several case studies in the specification levels MTO, CTO and STP have been made based on theory of mass customization. The case studies have been performed in a deductive approach where theories have been tested in real cases and validated through experiments. Results from the cases have improved the understanding in this area and been used in following case studies, why the thesis as a whole can be described as abduction.Research results shows that in the MTO and CTO specification level, product platforms should be based on modules that can be developed incrementally. STP products can be developed with integral product architecture, but if changes in the customer segment occur there is great risk that production will be affected negatively. In all studied specification levels, it is important to understand the market segment volumes to justify the development costs. Introduction of "Design variant module" for modular systems means that configurators for subsystems can be developed. Customization of MTO platforms then consists of a mixture of traditional design and configuration of modules. But to accomplish this, the link between ICT tools in the MTO and CTO process needs to be connected with traditional ICT tools in the construction industry. However, using modular product architectures in the design greatly reduce the information exchange between disciplines. If STP products are developed customization can be done using a web interface.In conclusion, if using the "Products in Product" concept (Erixon, 1998) it is possible to implement theories from mass customization in construction. It is also seen that modular product architecture creates opportunities to repair information chains and minimizes the exchange of information between different disciplines, enabling the use of ICT tools developed in other industries. By introducing a new module category to the existing theory, namely "Design variant module", the traditional design process (ETO) can be coupled with predefined product platforms and develop incrementally.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå tekniska universitet, 2014. , 75 p.
Doctoral thesis / Luleå University of Technology 1 jan 1997 → …, ISSN 1402-1544
Keyword [en]
Mass customization, Modularization, Platform architecture, Configuration, Civil engineering and architecture - Building manufacturing engineering
Keyword [sv]
Samhällsbyggnadsteknik och arkitektur - Byggproduktionsteknik
Research subject
Construction Engineering and Management
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-26587Local ID: f050cfe2-c856-4884-94a6-fdfd0317150fISBN: 978-91-7439-953-0ISBN: 978-91-7439-954-7 (PDF)OAI: diva2:999753
Godkänd; 2014; 20140416 (patjen); Nedanstående person kommer att disputera för avläggande av teknologie doktorsexamen. Namn: Patrik Jensen Ämne: Byggproduktion/Construction Engineering Avhandling: Configuration of Platform Architectures in Construction Opponent: Professor Lars Hvam, Department of Management Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark Ordförande: Professor Thomas Olofsson, Avd för byggkonstruktion- och produktion, Institutionen för samhällsbyggnad och naturresurser, Luleå tekniska universitet Tid: Tisdag den 17 juni 2014, kl 13.00 Plats: F1031, Luleå tekniska universitetAvailable from: 2016-09-30 Created: 2016-09-30Bibliographically approved

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