Many companies find it difficult to maintain commonality and economies of scale in products with strict customer design requirements that may vary greatly from contract-to-contract or piece-to-piece. These strict and varied requirements typically result in highly customized products that are costly to manufacture, involve short production runs, and require long delivery times. In this paper we discuss how the strategic incorporation of product platforms into the design process can leverage the design effort of individually customized products. As an example, we discuss the design of yoke cross-section platforms used to mount valve actuators in the nuclear power industry. Through this example we demonstrate the process of creating a market segmentation grid, choosing a targeted segment, creating a product platform for the yoke cross-section, and defining the yoke product family. The proposed modular architecture for pattern construction reduces the number of new yoke patterns needed for manufacturing, which will generate the most significant savings. Implementation of the yoke platforms will also reduce design cycle time and costs, shorten quotation and lead times, and improve overall customer satisfaction and good will. The end result is a product platform design process that will improve response to customer requests, reduce design cost, and improve time to market for companies that make small production runs of highly customized products.

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