Sciology = Science + Technology

Commonsense in Technology

Product Line Architecture in Automobile Industry

Posted by sureshkrishna on December 9, 2006

I had worked with a major Automobile Supplier in Germany from past 6 years of time. Its nice to see the way this industry is into making the “Short Product Cycles”. Initially the coencentration was on the faster innovation and the engineering team that supports it. And then the higher management has realized that there is something more than the Product Innovation and shorter “Time To Market”.

Then everyone has come across the Nokia Product Line [Manufacturing/Designing/Architecture]. If we look at it closely in terms of how fast Nokia wasable to get new models in to the Market and how fast they change the entire product lines/series, it is amazing. The base of a particular product series is almost the same. The panel changes, the software featuers changes, the memory size changes, the screen changes, etc… So some how these guys are able to get all these very quickly and then turn them into the Market.

It was more or less on the same lines that the Automobile industry gone in to this. How can i make a product Series changing rapidly and still get the maximum out of this. This phylosophy goes into almost many of the engineerning teams. e.g. body team, power train team, electronics team, software for the engine, software for the multimedia, etc…. Inshort this spreads across both the Software and Hardware of the Automobile Engineering.

In the first look the idea is to have a STABLE platform which serves as the starting point to develop or improve further. In a product series, this platform is more or less the STABLE through out and suppliers or manufacturers add some plug-ins on the top of the platform. So you can imagine something like having the Widows or Linuz kernal with you and you write some value added applications on the top of it. So, you have the same platform/kernel with you for your applications. BUT the behaviour and features of the application changes.

This looks very easy to be implemented concept. But in reality we have the 1000’s of engineers and architects working on it to really see something like this. We also understand that as the organization grows the integration and architectural implications increases. Department A does not know whats happening in the Department B in the same Organization. Some times its even hard to know what the competior is doing.

But what i have seen is that its a really COOL to something like this. This really makes the product companies “get going faster”.

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