The theory of Product Standardisation

Product standardisation is at its core the simplification of a product into reusable components. Each component may itself be configurable and may contain its own family of reusable components. Standardised components hold data and expose predefined interfaces and often integration and application rules. This article explains the theory of product standardisation.


Misunderstood concept

Product standardisation is often a misunderstood concept and therefore possibly discarded because of the notion that product standardisation leads to limited choices. Thought falsely that product standardisation restricts options to a few distinct designs and variations.

In the context of this paper, standardisation is used to achieve more with less. In doing this, standardisation should not detract from the market value of the product or the options the product offers. The product must retain all sizes, features and options that are required to satisfy customer requirements.


Economical use of components

Product standardisation provides very economical use of components. A small number of components can be configured to produce a high number of overall configurations. So 5 reusable components, each containing 10 configurations can provide 100,000 permutations.

This example assumes that all 5 components used simultaneously, and all combinations are possible. If it is possible to omit one or more components, the number of permutations increases to 155,505.

Some products can have several million permutations.



Using the example above, the total number of components used to achieve 155,505 product permutations is just 50.

Engineering no longer required to manage and maintain 155,505 different products. They now only need to manage 50 components.



Components must be designed to ensure that they interface correctly for every configurable permutation. Component reuse requires that the engineer takes a holistic view of the product family.


Attaching data

Data such as cost, lead time and weight can be attached to each component. From this, component data allows the calculation of total product cost or weight. The lead time of a product can also be determined using simple algorithms based upon component data.

Text associated with components which allow the automatic assembly of documents such as customer quotations or operating manuals.


Product rules

Product rules are essential to determine how components are allowed to be added or configured. For example, Component A, B and (C or D) may be a legitimate selection. The rule prevents both C and D from being selected.

A further example, whenever Component C and E are selected, component F is required. This rule ensures that component F automatically gets added when components C and E are both selected.

Rules may be quite simple, as the above examples illustrate, or several rules may be triggered simultaneously. Rules embed the knowledge that the company has, thereby ensuring selections are always successful.


Parametric parameters

Some components may require resizing to exact dimensions which known at the time of specification. Parametric parameters allow resizing. From these parameters, the entry of customer details resizes the component accordingly. Rules are required to ensure parametric dimensions do not exceed limits set by the design engineer. Further rules are required to ensure other components also change if required.

A cure for many business-related problems

Product standardisation can lead to shorter delivery times, increased profitability and customer satisfaction.

Product standardisation can also address many problems faced by product manufacturing businesses. It does this by reducing wasted effort, eliminating design errors and by improving the efficiency of business processes.

Product standardisation is the building block that product configuration and design automation processes both require. It provides a modular, configurable platform of robust components and embeds the rules required to make valid design configurations from possibly millions of permutations.


Further help and assistance

Gatehouse Design are specialists in product standardisation, product configuration and design automation. We can help companies develop highly effective product strategies, maximising profitability, productivity and customer satisfaction. We can help you implement product standardisation and improve the efficiency of your business. Please contact us to discuss any product design related issues that you may have.

There is an offer a free product audit to help identify opportunities for product standardisation, product configuration and design automation. Additionally, Gatehouse Design has published many helpful white papers and articles which are available on this website.


The author

Written by Peter Slee-Smith 14/05/2018.

Peter Slee-Smith founded Gatehouse Design in 2012, a Chartered Mechanical Engineer with more than 30 years experience in industrial design. Peter qualified with a Masters Degree and has held senior positions in many leading engineering and product manufacturing companies. He is passionate about product design efficiency and has written many articles on the subject. Based in Littleport just outside Ely in Cambridgeshire, Gatehouse Design specialises in product standardisation, configuration and design automation.

Leave a Reply