Lab Affiliation(s):
Strategic Engineering Research Group
Prof. O. L. de Weck
Areas of Expertise:
  • Change propagation
  • Industry platforms
  • Open innovation
Expected date of graduation:
March 15, 2016

Edoardo Filippo Colombo

  • PhD


  • Data, Systems, and Society

Lab Affiliation(s): 

Strategic Engineering Research Group


Prof. O. L. de Weck

Top 3 Areas of Expertise: 

Change propagation
Industry platforms
Open innovation

Expected date of graduation: 

March 15, 2016


Thesis Title: 

Open Innovation meets Changeability: Strategic Design Analyses for Cyber-physical Industry Platforms

Thesis Abstract: 

Nowadays, engineering design has to face challenges related to customers’ differentiation and high demand for novelty and innovation. At the same time, sustainability has become a priority, as resources consumption is seriously threatening the quality of life of future generations.

A viable concept to address these challenges are customizable industry platforms. Industry platforms can take advantage of an independent community of developers as external sources of innovation; furthermore, their modularity allows customers to personalize the product’s configuration and update them easily during the utilization phase, thus increasing the lifecycle value and reducing the need for product substitution. In particular, cyber-physical systems have some technological features, like connectivity and autonomy, which make them ideal as industry platforms. However, cyber-physical systems design methodologies that take into consideration systems’ lifecycle value are not present in literature.

This thesis provides an initial strategic design methodology blueprint, based on three subsequent design analysis. In the first part, the effect of system architecture on changeability is investigated, so that the system can be easily modified during its lifecycle. Then, a value analysis of the platform configurations is carried out and the most valuable development directions are highlighted. Finally, as every industry platform is coupled with a multi-sided market, the third part provides a socio-technical simulation of the platform ecosystem, whose results can determine both the technical features a platform should have and the most appropriate strategic management of the ecosystem.

Two case studies are given. The former scrutinize the effect of modularity and architectural features over a large sample of randomly-generated architectures; the latter shows how the entire set of analyses has been applied to the development of a modular, customizable smartphone. Design recommendations and future research directions conclude the work.

Top 5 Awards and honors (name of award, date received): 

Assofluid award for best thesis in hydraulic systems design
ICED 2015 Reviewers' favourite award

5 Recent Papers: 

Colombo, E. F., Di Gialleonardo, E., Facchinetti, A., Bruni, S. (2013) Study of an active hydraulic anti-roll bar device for high-speed railway vehicle, IAVSD Conference 2013





Colombo, E. F., Cascini, G. (2014) Complexity as information content and its implications for systems design, Design conference 2014

Colombo, E. F., Di Gialleonardo, E., Facchinetti, A., Bruni, S. (2014) Active carbody roll control in railway vehicle using hydraulic actuation, Control Engineering Practice

Colombo, E.F., Cascini, G., de Weck, O.L. (2015) Impact of architecture types and degree of modularity on change propagation indices, Proceedings of the International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED ‘15)

Sinha, K., Colombo, E.F., Shougarian, N. R., de Weck, O.L. (2015) A simplified mathematical model for two-sided market systems with an intervening engineered platform, Proceedings of the 41st Design Automation Conference (DAC ‘15)

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