Economic Analysis of Two Different Door Architectures 2001-01-3045
In the past, materials selection for automotive components has been managed on a part-by-part basis. As a result, the economics of these selections have often been reduced to comparing material price/property ratios, rather than technological options.
More recently, the debate around modular designs and their advantages and disadvantages has shifted the emphasis towards a higher level viewpoint that deals with more complex systems. This approach provides the opportunity to search for new combinations of product architecture and materials that may exploit specific material advantages better than the classic part-by-part replacement.
This paper presents the results of an economic analysis for two different door designs. The door designs differ both with regards to their product architectures and with regards to the materials they employ. The economic analysis considers the following process steps: parts fabrication, subassembly, paint, and final assembly (trim) for two production scenarios.
The case study reveals several findings. First, the analysis concludes that both door designs offer a potential economic advantage depending on the final production volume. Specifically, the conventional design is considered more appropriate for high volume production, whilst the alternative design is more cost effective at production volumes typical of niche and derivative vehicles. Second, since the choice of design architecture has an influence on all sub systems, meaningful comparisons between the architectures may be made only through the adoption of comprehensive cost models. For example, the case study demonstrates that the choice of certain product architectures can help mitigate disadvantages caused by higher input material costs. Finally, the case study finds that the cost savings from ‘commonization’ of components vary depending on the base production volume.