Journal of Intelligent Manufacturing

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 31–45 | Cite as

A taxonomy and decision support for the design and manufacture of types of product families

  • Jonathan R. A. Maier
  • Georges M. Fadel


The realization that designing products in families can and does have significant technological and economic advantages over traditional single product design has motivated increasing interest in recent years in formal design tools and methodologies for product family design. However, currently there is no guidance for designers in the first key strategic decisions of product family design, in particular determining the type of product family to design. Hence, in this paper, first a taxonomy of different types of product families is presented which consists of seven types of product families, categorized based on number of products and time of product introduction. Next a methodology is introduced to support designers in deciding which type of product family is appropriate, based upon early knowledge about the nature of the intended product(s) and their intended market(s). From this information it follows both which manufacturing paradigm and which fundamental design strategies are appropriate for each type of product family. Finally, the proposed methodology is illustrated through a case study examining a family of whitewater kayaks.


Product family Product platform Taxonomy Design 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical Engineering, Clemson Research in Engineering Design and Optimization (CREDO) LaboratoryClemson UniversityClemsonUSA

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