The global market is evermore volatile and turbulent; it requires rapid responses to the emerging customers needs, also to unpredictable ones. Companies are forced towards a continuous research and innovation in terms of flexible technologies and processes in order to provide a high level of market adaptability. In this context, agile approaches, intended as a set of strategies to face the market variability, have to be investigated. They have to interest all processes related to the product development phase. This paper is focused on how to implement an efficient agile strategy in product design. The proposed approach is based on product modularity and on the integration of computer-aided design (CAD)-based tools to support feasibility analysis on virtual prototypes. It allows the concurrent management of possible changes in both product and process platforms by adopting virtual prototypes for performing simulations. The implemented platforms and the connected virtual prototype are structured according to modularity principles. The virtual prototype is defined as a collection of geometrical, functional, structural, manufacturing, environmental information, contained in the modules of the product and process platforms. An industrial example, belonging to the wellness production field (such as bathtubs and shower stalls), is described to validate the agile approach. It has been applied to solve a particularly meaningful problem: how to improve the bathtubs production process by reducing manufacturing and assembly costs while improving product customisability, eco-sustainability and quality. Once analysed, the context and the design constraints, in terms of cost, of environmental performance and, mainly, of aesthetic product features customisation, a new manufacturing process has been introduced based on the injection moulding technology instead of traditional thermoforming sheets.
A structured agile design approach to support customisation in wellness product development / Mengoni, Maura; Germani, Michele; Mandorli, Ferruccio. - In: INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF COMPUTER INTEGRATED MANUFACTURING. - ISSN 0951-192X. - STAMPA. - 22:1(2009), pp. 42-54. [10.1080/09511920802326233]