Publications / 2019 Proceedings of the 36th ISARC, Banff, Alberta, Canada

Platforms for Enabling Flexibility at Two Construction Companies

Henrik Eriksson and Ellinor Emilsson
Pages 348-355 (2019 Proceedings of the 36th ISARC, Banff, Alberta, Canada)

Product platforms have proven to be an effective means for many industries, seeking to achieve front end variety based on back end commonality. Modular design with standardised interfaces, enabling reuse of components in derivative products over time, has been a success factor for i.e. automotive industry and other types of industries operating in a modify-to-order or configure-to-order supply chain. For construction companies who operate in an engineer-to-order, or even design-to-order supply chain, extensive and changing customer requirements must be managed and full product standardisation could, therefore, affect a company’s market offer adversely depending on its market segmentation. In previous research, one key finding is that construction companies tending to a wider market segment could focus on standardising processes rather than products. Furthermore, previous research highlight the notion of process platforms as a subset within product family design, albeit, little research focus has been given to process platforms for construction companies. In this study, two construction companies are studied with the aim to describe their means for enabling a flexible product offer whilst maintaining a platform strategy. Findings shows that both companies have process platforms with explicit and implicit relations to product realisation and that standardised processes are a vital part in offering end product flexibility whilst maintaining a platform strategy. This study identifies the need for additional research to elaborate and generalise the relation between process platforms and product flexibility, and implies that theory linked to product platforms need to be developed in order to incorporate construction companies where full product standardisation is in conflict with their production strategy.

Keywords: Industrialised house-building; Process platform; Process standardisation; Platform strategy