Platform strategy at Tetra Pak

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Tetra Pak is a packaging company established in the year 1960. Their platform family began with the introduction of a tetrahedral shaped package to store milk. The company now has six filling equipment platforms. The most important factor influencing platform development at the company is the lead time of development. The company is always striving to achieve the customer demands by keeping the development time as small as possible. The company has three main administrative domains; processing, packaging and distribution lines. The basic structure of handling tasks at these domains is that there is always an engineer responsible for each sector who works in parallel. They test and make sure the platform lines are running properly. One of the important things to highlight regarding Tetra Pak’s strategy is the use of a generic V model. The company breaks down the system for a specific requirement into smaller parts which can make it easier to work with. Once this is done, they move on to the architectural design. Architectural design is used to build the machine structure, which helps in parallel sequencing of module design. At this stage, they try to group all the variants into one module and at the same time make sure the functions are grouped in the right way too. To achieve this, there are specifications which are stated via each requirement. They are categorized into packaging system specification, equipment development specification, interface specification and module specification. These specifications explain what type of signal is required and what functions are required to obtain the desired requirement. Thus, architectural design is used to bring a balance between conflicting requirements. Each platform equipment line has varying equipment specifications based on the requirements. The platform developed from a single platform line has to be maintained under certain critical functions such as speed, MTBF and Lifetime. Design level meetings are held at module level to check if all the design criteria’s are met and if the products developed meet the requirements. Modularization at Tetra pak has helped the company in better resource utilization and to reduce time to market. It has also reduced machine costs and life cycle costs of the product. But, the major influential factor has been the reduction in lead time. The company has already developed a road map for the next decade that lays down which module needs to be changed and what percentage of commonality has to be maintained. Although the company has an effective modularization strategy, there have been some limitations in innovation at the same time.

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