Product architecture

Engineering design in industry and academia has traditionally studied and improved the development of single products. In order to reduce time to market, increase ability to launch new products and strengthen the ability to launch on time, product architecture is one possible approach. The goal is to be able to make explicit and quantitative models describing the constitutive elements of a product architecture. 

The overall assumption is that if an architecture cannot be modelled explicitly, it is difficult to make good product programme decisions. A product architecture can very briefly be defined as the way a product family or product assortment is built up. The architecture plays an important role for companies, which strive to launch new products faster and at attractive performances and cost-points. The core elements in a product architecture are stable interfaces over time, design units (flexible modules) and standard designs (fixed modules). 

Design units and standard designs must be designed in balanced performance steps. Important results from the research work include: The Product Family Master Plan (PFMP) that describes the structural and functional part of a product architecture. The structural part is the answer to the question: What does the architecture consist of? The functional aspect is the answer to the question: What can the architecture do, i.e. where is it prepared for launch of new products? Identification of cost-effective scaling principles for engineering design, i.e. the relation between cost/performance of new solutions has been described. 

Definition of systems and modules in PLM (product Lifecycle Management) has been identified. An interface diagram has been developed, by means of which it is possible to work with a double definition of a product family. Systems describe how a product works and modules describe how a product is produced. This approach has proven to lead to a significant reduction of lead time in engineering projects and improved profitability of product programmes.


Niels Henrik Mortensen
Head of Section, Professor
DTU Mechanical Engineering
+45 45 25 62 75
26 FEBRUARY 2021