Two critical milestones that must be achieved during concept design are 1) definition of a product architecture that meets performance, producibility, and strategic objectives, and 2) estimation of the integration risk in each candidate concept. This paper addresses these issues by introducing the chain method for illustrating the structure of function delivery in a concept in a simple pictorial way. The chains method helps design teams to understand the advantages or disadvantages of using a modular or an integral product architecture. A set of metrics is proposed that can be used to compare different concepts and rank their integration risk. An example drawn from the aircraft industry is used to illustrate the method.

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