Capturing Value in Conceptual PSS Design : Perspectives from the Automotive Supply Chain

Abstract: Manufacturing companies have traditionally focused their design and development activities on realizing technical and engineered aspects of physical artifacts based on performance requirements. The ever-changing business climate, with its increased pace during the past decades, has forced industries to continuously innovate their approach toward the development of new products. Pressured also by global competition, manufacturing companies need to reconsider the traditional concept of realizing value via goods production, and shift towards realizing value through product-service combinations. Companies have begun to recognize that gaining competitive advantage and expanding market shares is not achievable purely through continuous technical improvements. Rather, it is necessary to develop a closer relationship to the customer to gain a deeper understanding of expectations, needs, and perceived value. From a development perspective, the overarching problem within complex systems such as those in which cars, aircraft, and excavators are manufactured, or healthcare is provided, is that the focus on customer value is likely to become blurred since it is difficult to understand the impact a change in any single component in the overall system has on value, and to determine a new function’s impact on future scenarios. The main goals of this thesis are to provide an understanding of key challenges when considering the value different design alternatives provide in the conceptual phases of product development taking the automotive industry as case study, and to explore how to support a multi-disciplinary design team in making value-conscious decisions when dealing with new product-service offerings. The research approach has involved data collection through participation in, and facilitation of, product-service design workshops in the automotive industry. Also, it has involved follow-up meetings and interviews, as well as a review of literature on state-of-the-art methods in early conceptual design phases, which describes the advantages and disadvantages of the different frameworks. The primary finding of the study is that determination of the impact of different PSS design options on customer value becomes more challenging since new elements are introduced (e.g., new business models and services). The design team requires more holistic competences in order to more fully understand changing contexts; and new methods and tools are needed in order to establish a base to define, discuss and assess what “uncontested customer value” is, and link it to the different product-service elements of the system. Secondly, this thesis proposes a conceptual approach for value simulation and assessment of different design options, where the iterative use of personas and scenario generation is combined with value modeling and computer-based simulation techniques, enabling a quick “what-if” analysis of the various options, facilitating the identification of promising combinations of product and service elements that provide higher customer value.