Research in Engineering Design

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 139–154 | Cite as

Postponing design processes in unpredictable environments

Original Paper

Abstract

This work explores the effectiveness of design postponement in the concept development of large-scale engineering projects. Our empirical research shows limited use of postponement in semiconductor fabrication facility (‘fab’) projects despite evidence that the customer inevitably requests design criteria changes in the project’s life. We simulate fab concept development as a 2-stage process—conceptualization followed by design. We find that postponing the start of design in relation to the completion of conceptualization reduces the average resources spent on design and the variability in the concept development duration but increases the average concept development duration. A sensitivity analysis on the postponement lag duration indicates, however, that some degree of postponement may allow reducing design rework without increasing the risk of overrunning the project completion date, in comparison to the risk with early commitment. Further, simulation indicates that the effectiveness of postponement decreases as designers’ capability to reuse work increases.

Keywords

Design Postponement Large-scale engineering design Uncertainty Project management Design reuse Change 

References

  1. Bhattacharya S, Krishnan V, and Mahajan V (1998) Managing new product definition in high velocity environments. Manage Sci 44(11):50–64Google Scholar
  2. Chase RB, Aquilano NJ, Jacobs FR (1998) Production and operations management: Manufacturing and services. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Clark KB, Fujimoto T (1991) Product development performance: Strategy, organization, and management in the world auto industry. Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MAGoogle Scholar
  4. Eisenhardt MK, Tabrizi BN (1995) Accelerating adaptive processes: Product innovation in the global computer industry. Adm Sci Q 40:84–110Google Scholar
  5. Eppinger SD, Whitney DE, Smith R, Gebala D (1994) A model-based method for organizing tasks in product development. Res Eng Des 6(1):1–13Google Scholar
  6. Gil N (2001) Product-process development simulation to support specialty contractor involvement in early design. Dissertation, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California at BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  7. Ha AY, Porteus EL (1995) Optimal timing of reviews in concurrent design for manufacturability. Manage Sci 41(9):1431–1447Google Scholar
  8. Hopp WJ, Spearman ML (1996) Factory physics: Foundations of manufacturing management. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Iansiti M (1995) Shooting the rapids: Managing product development in turbulent environments. Calif Manage Rev 38(1):37–58Google Scholar
  10. Jacome M, Peixoto H, Royo A, Lopez J (1999) The design space layer: Supporting early design space exploration for core-based designs. In: Design, automation and test in Europe (DATE ‘99), Germany, pp 676–685Google Scholar
  11. Jick TD (1979) Mixing qualitative and quantitative methods: Triangulation in action. Adm Sci Q 24 Dec(4):602–612Google Scholar
  12. Klein B, Meckling W (1957) Application of operations research to development decisions. Presented at the twelfth national meeting of the Operations Research Society of America, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15 NovGoogle Scholar
  13. Krishnan V, Eppinger SD, Whitney DE (1997) A model-based framework to overlap product development activities. Manage Sci 43(4):437–451Google Scholar
  14. Krishnan V, Bhattacharya S (2002) Technology selection and commitment in new product development: The role of uncertainty and design flexibility. Manage Sci 48(3):313–327Google Scholar
  15. Law AM, Kelton WD (2000) Simulation modeling and analysis. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Loch CH, Terwiesch C (1998) Communication and uncertainty in concurrent engineering. Manage Sci 44(8):1032–1048Google Scholar
  17. Lottaz C, Clement D, Faltings B, Smith I (1999) Constraint-based support for collaboration in design and construction. J Comput Civ Eng ASCE 13(1):23–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Perry C, Greig ID (1975) Estimating the mean and variance of subjective distributions in PERT and decision analyses. Manage Sci 21(12):1477–1480Google Scholar
  19. Pietroforte R (1997) Communication and governance in the building process. Constr Manage Econ 15:71–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Schruben DA, Schruben LW (1999) Event graph modeling using SIGMA. Custom Simulations. http://www.customsimulations.com. Cited 10 Dec 2002Google Scholar
  21. Smith RP, Eppinger SD (1997a) A predictive model of sequential iteration in engineering design. Manage Sci 43(8):1104–1121Google Scholar
  22. Smith RP, Eppinger S (1997b) Identifying controlling features of engineering design iteration. Manage Sci 43(3):276–292Google Scholar
  23. Terwiesch C, Loch CH (1999) Measuring the effectiveness of overlapping development activities. Manage Sci 45(4):455–465Google Scholar
  24. Thomke S, Reinertsen D (1998) Agile product development: Managing development flexibility in uncertain environments Calif Manage Rev 41(1):8–30Google Scholar
  25. Tommelein ID, Levitt RE, Hayes-Roth B, Confrey T (1991) SightPlan experiments: Alternate strategies for site layout design. J Comput Civ Eng ASCE 5(1):42–63Google Scholar
  26. van Hoek RI (2001) The rediscovery of postponement: A literature review and directions for research. J Oper Manage 19:161–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ward A, Liker JK, Cristiano JJ, Sobek DK II (1995) The second Toyota paradox: How delaying decisions can make better cars faster. Sloan Manage Rev Spring:43–61Google Scholar
  28. Wood SC (1997) The impact of tool delivery times on the optimal capacity and value of semiconductor wafer fabs. In: Proceedings of the IEMT symposium, Austin, Texas, 13–15 OctGoogle Scholar
  29. Yassine A, Joglekar N, Braha D, Eppinger S, Whitney D (2003) Information hiding in product development: The design churn effect. Res Eng Des 14(3):31–144. DOI 10.1007/s0016300300362CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Operations, Technology and Innovation ManagementManchester Business School, The University of ManchesterUK
  2. 2.Engineering and Project Management Programm, Civ. 1 and Environmental Engineering DepartmentU.C. BerkeleyUSA
  3. 3.Haas School of BuisnessU.C. BerkeleyUSA

Personalised recommendations