A Customer Needs Motivated Conceptual Design Methodology for Product Portfolio Planning


Platform design strategy is an important topic in modern product development, particularly in the context of global markets that demand customised or region-specific differentiation of products. However, current methods do not fully address platform definition with respect to customer needs. Customer satisfaction is key for survival and it is crucial that the customer is used to plan different variants of a product. This article explores the utility of high-level customer needs as a direct means to define the product's base platform and differentiating modules. Our approach is to outline platform and differentiating modules during the conceptual design stage of product development and to plan a product portfolio before any embodiment design occurs. Modern design tools such as functional modelling and modular heuristics are used in this approach. On the basis of empirical studies, a customer-need-motivated conceptual design method for product portfolio planning is proposed. The developed method is validated by applying the technique to existing products and by comparing the results against known product platforms. Finally, the method is applied to a new product to generate conceptual designs of product variants.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Customer Needs; Function-Based Design; Modularity; Product Platforms; Product Portfolios

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 2008 Taylor & Francis, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Dec 2008