KIVI - Methodical Framework for the Development of Customer-Specific Product Families based on Modular Product Structures


Modular and variant-oriented product families offer the possibility of offering a high external variety with a comparatively low internal variety through the configuration of predefined modules (standardized, variant or optional). However, customers are becoming increasingly demanding and individual needs can be met less and less adequately with predefined modules. Therefore, special solution with individually developed modules are created to meet the individual needs of a customer. In this context, a special solution means an unplanned development that has to be examined in each individual case. In contrast to this, the literature increasingly describes the possibility of adapting the product within defined individualization spaces specifically planned in the product structure. However, this strategy called (product) personalization has so far been seen in isolation and without a link and integration as a standard solution strategy in the design of modular product families.


The aim of the Kivi project is to develop a method for designing modular product architectures with personalizable modules, taking into account the costs and benefits. Personalizable modules are modules or components that can be adapted according to any customer-specific requirement within defined limits in order to precisely meet customer needs in an idealized manner. By integrating such newly defined, customer-specific modules into the modular product architecture, it is possible to benefit from the advantages of modularity and at the same time reduce or ideally avoid the risk of oversizing. In this way, special solutions with high variant-induced complexity can be minimized.

Research method

In order to achieve the project goal, the first step is to develop a partial procedure for identifying product properties and characteristics relevant for personalization. To this end, criteria will be derived with the aid of various product examples, on the basis of which it will be possible to weight product properties and characteristics in terms of their relevance to individualization. In a second step, the internal effects of individually designed product characteristics are investigated. The impact model of modular product structures can be used for this purpose, and individualization-specific relationships can be examined and supplemented. With the help of these findings, a sub-procedure can be derived for specifically identifying and analyzing the internal effects of product personalization. The individual sub-procedures are then combined and visualized in a method to support the development of modular product families with personalizable modules. 

Project Organisation

Project Execution: Juliane Kuhl, M.Sc.


The project is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The duration of the project is 24 months and ranges from July 2021 to June 2023.