a commonly used development concept employed by smart manufacturers. It refers to a group of similar elements such as engine components or technology shared by a series of products manufactured by the same company.
Product Platform Details
A product platform is a base model a manufacturer uses to make similar items or products to the layman. Product platforms allow a manufacturer to develop a product that is new from the existing product platform.
Developing a product against the existing product platform is beneficial to the manufacturer for various reasons. First, it allows for flexibility while developing new products. All this requires is a few tweaks while maintaining the base components of the product platform. Furthermore, an existing product platform reduces product development costs because manufacturers do not have to "reinvent the wheel" each time.
Another benefit that manufacturers reap from their product platforms is the increased speed of producing a new product. It makes the manufacturing process faster since the company is not making it from scratch. Since most of the components are already available on the product platform, it cuts down development time by far. Plus, it is easier to upgrade to a new product and reduce testing for these new products since its components are largely similar. Manufacturers and clients alike have already tested the earlier models, too.
Real-World Example of Product Platform
Various manufacturers across different industries have used the concept of a product platform for years. It is quite popular. These fields include cars, machinery, power tools, and printers, to name a few. One real-world example of a company using a product platform strategy is Volkswagen in 1999.
Volkswagon used a general product platform to develop 19 car models under four brands: Skoda, Seat, Audi, and Volkswagen. The drive, gear system, and the floor system made up the common components of the product platform.
It's no wonder that these four models share many similarities in certain areas, such as body shape, lights, and engine size. Thanks to this genius move, Volkswagen saved $1.5 billion in expenditure and product development costs every year that they manufactured these models.
Significance of Product Platform
Product platforms are of great significance to manufacturers in quite a few meaningful ways. First and foremost is that this concept can last years without becoming redundant. This means that a manufacturer can produce a wide range of products using the same product platform for many years with great success, just like Volkswagen did.
Reduction of manufacturing costs and access to various market segments is made possible by utilizing a good product platform. Since a manufacturer will not have to start from scratch each time they are creating a product, they will significantly reduce costs. Simultaneously, a product platform helps manufacturers develop new products that cut across various market segments quite easily.
The backend of operations that form an integral part of the manufacturing process, such as distribution, inventory, and purchasing, is made easier by product platforms. By making the manufacturing process shorter, a product platform also makes inventory, distribution, and purchasing easier, thanks to fewer processes. However, you should note that the cost of developing a successful product platform is quite high if the Volkswagen statistics are anything to go by.