The Role of Product Architecture in The Agile Manufacturing Firms
Purpose– Agile manufacturing concept was first coined by Iacocca institute in 1991 as a new manufacturing paradigm in order to provide and ensure competitiveness in the emerging global manufacturing order. Afterward, a considerable number of studies have been conducted in this area. Reviewing these studies reveals that they mostly focus on agile manufacturing drivers, definition and characteristics but few of them propose practical solutions to achieve it. Moreover, among proposed approaches toward agility, the impact of product design has been less studied. However, the substantial impacts of product design on manufacturing firms are widely accepted. To fill this gap, this research aims to analyse how the product design affects the potential of being agile in a manufacturing firm. In this research the main focus is on the architecture of product as a part of its design.
Methodology– Since this research requires synthesizing and bridging two separate fields, agile manufacturing and product architecture, the “literature review” method is adopted.
Findings– Agile manufacturing has four main dimensions: drivers, capabilities, strategies and providers. To become an agile competitor, a manufacturing firm should concentrate on enriching a set of appropriate agility capabilities. Moreover, product architecture allocates functions to physical chunks (major building blocks of a product) and determines interfaces among chunks. The analysis of reviewed literature exhibits that product architecture has strong implications for agility capabilities. These implications might have both positive or negative effects which result in various trade-offs. Additionally, these trade-offs disclose this fact that there is not a superior architecture. Thus, a manufacturing firm is able to adopt suitable product architecture by considering the product architecture impacts on agility capabilities and related trade-offs.
Value– This study organized and summarized a considerable number of researches’ outcomes in the product architecture area. In addition, it covers the lack of attention to product architecture in agile manufacturing literature. Also, it exhibits how product architecture may contribute to manufacturers which are moving toward agility. This report raises managers and practitioners’ awareness regarding product architecture potential and probable consequences of different choices that they make.
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