Tim Simpson Photo
Segal Seminar Series

Tim Simpson

December 1, 2009, 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center
ITW Classroom (1.350)
2133 Sheridan Rd., Evanston, IL 60208

Product Platform and Product Family Design: Status and Promise


The proliferation of niche markets and the heterogeneity of customer demands has forced many companies to provide a variety of products, increasing the breadth and depth of their product lines. Meanwhile, product development cycles are continually being shortened by market pressures, and cost management and reduction throughout the product lifecycle remains imperative for sustained success and growth. Many companies are successfully responding to these pressures using platform-based product family development – a strategic and cost-effective approach to generate a family of products derived from common elements that constitute a shared platform. Platform-based development embodies all of the challenges of product design while adding the complexity of coordinating the development of multiple products in an effort to maximize commonality within the set of products without compromising their individual performance. In this talk, I will discuss methods and tools that have been developed to support product family and product platform design along with several examples of successful platform-based product family development that have occurred in industry. The challenges of product family design will also be discussed along with the strategic implications of platform design.


Dr. Simpson is currently a Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Penn State with affiliations in Engineering Design and Information Sciences & Technology. He received his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 1998 and 1995, and his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University in 1994. He teaches courses on Product Family Design, Concurrent Engineering, and Product Dissection, and he is the Director of The Learning Factory (http://www.lf.psu.edu). His research interests include product platform and product family design, mass customization, multidisciplinary design optimization (MDO), and multi-dimensional data visualization. He has co-authored more than 200 peer-reviewed journal and conference publications on these topics, and he is the lead editor on the book, Product Platform and Product Family Design: Methods and Applications. He has collaborated with companies such as Accentra, B/E Aerospace, Black & Decker, Boeing, Bosch, Dana, Durametal, Electrolux, Flowserve, GE Transportation, Innovation Factory, KCF Technologies, LG Electronics, United Technologies Research Center, Whirlpool, and Zühlke Engineering on product family-related projects and research. He is a recipient of the NSF Career Award and the SAE Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award. He has received several awards for outstanding research and teaching at Penn State, including the 2007 Penn State University President’s Award for Excellence in Academic Integration. He is a Fellow in ASME and an Associate Fellow in AIAA. He is the Chair of the AIAA MDO Technical Committee and the Past Chair of the ASME Design Automation Executive Committee. He is also an Associate Editor for the ASME Journal of Mechanical Design and Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization.

Contact Wei Chen at 847-491-7019 or weichen@northwestern.edu for further questions.