Product structure is an illustration of how the parts of a product fit together and interrelate with one another; usually arranged in levels of detail according to the structure. It delivers a hierarchical sorting of the items forming a product. The product structure contains important product information in deep detail such as the assemblies, parts, and other details needed in making the product.

Thanks to product structure, a representation of the components making a product and their attributes can be done. A product structure is usually utilized in managing and implementing changes, in testing and in problem-solving in intricate products with a huge number of interdependent parts.

When a product is conceived, engineers are at hand to provide a sketch of a structure which points out the main components and systems that will be combined to deliver the final product. This represents the initial design stages. It is during this stage that for each component, already available custom and standard parts are evaluated for their functionality.

New parts are created for items with no alternatives as the product structure begin to take root. The management of product structure is a way of easily capturing and managing as designed product structures. Thanks to product structure management, parts and assemblies can be created and reused infinitely to give variations of basic structures and even the creation of intricate unique structures.

Product structures are usually in the form of models which show various concepts about a product, what is referred to as product structure modeling. The concepts involved in product structure modeling can be divided into two main aspects:

Product breakdown

The heart of product structure is the components making up a product and how they relate to one another. The assembly is usually made up of parts and subassemblies while these subassemblies can consist of other parts and subassemblies. Ordering is therefore basically hierarchical although the classification may end up overlapping. This is because a subassembly may end up being a part of another assembly operation.

Several concepts are involved in product breakdown because of the variation and differentiation of items and such include alternatives, variants and revisions. The latter carries records for errors and corrections while variants are other options that the customer can result to.

Product structure views

This involves an indication of the different product structure views. Not everybody in a company needs a thorough overview of the product and therefore a couple of components and their attributes can be removed.