Role of product architecture in manufacturing firm

Role of product architecture in manufacturing firm product strategy. product architecture will be used to determine product mix decisions, product component standardization, product line length and product line location. product architecture in manufacturing is also called production system design

Product Architecture in Manufacturing

The role of product architecture in manufacturing firm product strategy is to prepare a blueprint for the product systems that can produce products through assembly lines/ work cells with minimal human supervision

Procedure of Product Architecture in Manufacturing

– Identify all activities that are involved or occur when making each product. For example, when making laptop computers there are many different types of technology used when manufacturing one computer such as hard drives, mother boards, processors, etc. Once all the processes have been identified for each product then identify which ones can be combined into product families.

– Combine product family components into product modules.

– Identify which product modules can be combined into product systems.

– Create product system work cells by arranging product modules and developing an information flow process among them (i.e., what type of information needs to pass between product modules). The firm now has its blueprint or architecture for manufacturing/assembly line processes. A good example of companies that follow this type of approach are Dell computers, Harley Davidson motorcycles, Toyota automotive products, etc.

– product lines can be easily managed because product architecture allows for product variety but minimizes the complexity inherent within product variants.

– product architecture makes process simplification possible. This is because processes are designed for product modules or product systems that are similar in function and design.

– production costs are reduced because different product modules use standard automation machines to produce individual product components, reduce inventory holding costs, etc…

– The combination of product variety and simplicity makes duplication of existing procedures, equipment, knowledge base, etc… less necessary than in firms that do not implement this type of approach.

The main reason why Toyota uses the C/I system is because it has a better organization structure than other types of manufacturing systems which tend to have a product structured organization.

– Product architecture is related to different product characteristics such as product variety and product simplicity.

– product architecture is the way that a product system is organized into modules or product families to produce a range of products with similar functions by using common modules, automated manufacturing processes, design and engineering knowledge, components and equipment.

Toyota has a market-oriented production system which is their strategy for meeting customer requirements through continuous improvement of all activities in order to grow profitable sales while simultaneously satisfying customer needs for high quality products at low cost. The 4 main principles of Toyota Production System (TPS) are: Just-in-Time (JIT), Kaizen (continuous improvement), Jidoka (quality control) and Respect for People (employee participation), which are all applied to product development.

Toyota’s product architecture is product focused with modularization that allows different models of the product to be developed, manufactured and sold by sharing common modules or components. For example, both Camry and Corolla share the same platform but have completely different exterior designs.

The product architecture has evolved over time based on technical capabilities of Toyota’s plants, engineering knowledge and market demands. The first product platforms originated in Japan where shared platforms were used to create various versions of existing products using similar components while keeping production cost under control by reducing standardization between models/variants (for example, Dyna 100 used many components other Mitsubishi vehicles). 

On the other hand, product platforms developed in North America were adapted to local market conditions with product-specific components (for example Corolla platform).

The first product platform developed outside Japan was the MC platform which was introduced in 1978. The product architectures evolved over time and became more complex resulting in common modules or components shared across models. These product architectures can be divided into three generations depending on the level of commonality between vehicles sharing the same architecture. 

They are presented below:

AI module sharing

1) Common Module Family (CMF): used for mass-market products designed for Global markets requiring low production cost/simple design

2) New Global Architecture (Global NGA)/Global Low Cost Architecture (GLCA): used for mass-market product designed for Global markets requiring low production cost/simple design

3) New Premium Architecture (Premium NPA): used for upper premium product designed for Global markets

The product architectures that evolved over time are presented below. The first product, the A1 from Audi Série 1, was based on a platform from al Company called C1 which was a brand specific platform. This product architecture is no longer in use and has been replaced by higher level product architectures since then. In this generation of product architectures the components were not interchangeable between vehicles sharing the same architecture.


Finally Role of product architecture in manufacturing firm products is very important which is not only used in product design and product development, but also product manufacturing. In product architecture deliver high value products to market with shorter product life cycles. R&D uses product architecture which standardizes product building blocks for product line extension or platform expansion process of new model development .