Product architecture is the way that the functional elements of a product are arranged physically and how they interact to bring about the functionality of the product. It defines the building chunks of a product by what they do and how they interface with the rest of the product. It is concerned with how the function of a particular product is arranged into physical parts. Also referred to as product structure, product architecture is basically the arrangement of the functional elements of a product.

A vital part of any product development, product architecture influences how a product will be designed and made, sold and used, repaired, and disposed of.

Types of Product Architecture

There are basically two types of product development architecture;

  • Integral architectural design – in this type, the product’s functions are performed by a range of parts that aren’t necessarily organized or arranged in assemblies. Integral design is inferior to Modular design in terms of structure and this result in a scenario where an alteration of one part affects several neighboring others. Also, integral design features way less interchangeability of parts compared to modular design. Both these scenarios have cost implications.
  • Modular architectural design – this spots specific functions and particular operations required to attain the product’s overall purpose. Next, standard assemblies are constructed to perform these specific purposes, with these assemblies eventually connected to give the final product. Nonetheless, these assemblies are considered individual components and they interface normally with each other. Modular architectural design trumps integral architectural design and makes more sense cost wise.

Architectural Influences

Product architecture will affect the product in various stages of development, use, repair and disposal.

Influence during product development

During this stage, it will influence:

  • How Families, as well as platforms, are structured
  • Realization of functions
  • Incorporation and accomplishment of standardization and reuse
  • Subassembly specifics as well as module boundary locations

Influence during manufacturing system design

Some of the things that product architecture will influence include:

  • Assembly sequences
  • Flexibility planning
  • Utilization of facilities to reconcile capacity and demand

During production and assembly

Under this part, influences will be on:

  • Production location
  • Demand, how unpredictable it is and how to meet it.

During use

The influence of product architecture on the product during use includes:

  • Product distribution to customers
  • Product updating when in use by customers
  • Product disposal or recycling