A common way to react to mass customization and cost pressure is the introduction of modular product platforms in manufacturing companies. By the help of a modular product platform (MPP), which is composed of standardized and customizable product elements, it is possible to offer economically feasible prices for customized products. Although MPPs are commonly used across different industries, their advantages are not completely exploited. This is especially true when the reuse efficiency of standard elements and knowledge about its structures and elements are rather low. An explanation for the latter can be found looking at how product information is usually managed today. Product information is usually managed in a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system. However, current information technology (IT) solutions for PLM are not designed to systematically deliver platform information and support the lifecycle management of MPPs. Oftentimes, PLM solutions support product information for research and development. Thus, dealing with MPP’s lifecycle, which includes all relevant roles and adjusted permissions across the lifecycle, is often beyond the scope of PLM systems. Despite the severe industry need for improved information quality and availability on the entire MPP’s lifecycle, current research in this field lacks a systematic approach to tackle this problem. Theoretical foundations of an information structure for MPPs should be developed and platform specific requirements for PLM solutions need to be identified. It is shown how current PLM solutions can be adjusted, to support companies regarding MPP’s lifecycle management. Moreover, a detailed procedure to structure the information of MPPs is explained.
Therefore, this paper suggests a methodology to structure information of MPPs. While previous research papers contained an outline of the methodology to structure MPP’s information, this paper presents the detailed procedure. The methodology is based on the platform information flow, that is derived from a platform process model for the MPP’s lifecycle. Different perspectives and roles are considered to identify role specific information profiles and their access to information. Comparing different information profiles, information is characterized based on parameters to build the foundation of a common structure for a semantic information model. In this regard, the aim of this research is to increase efficiency for the business processes using a MPP, by means of a coherent structure for MPP’s information. That way, information can be stored and used by different roles along the platform’s business processes without creating redundancies or inconsistencies.