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Master Class: From Products to Product Families: Leverage Your Product Portfolio

In many companies, new product designs share a lot of commonalities with their previously designed products. To maximally reuse your design assets such as models, codes, simulation results, test results..., it is recommended to adopt a product line engineering approach. Using this approach, a product family is defined, after which designers can specify variants and product variant codes are generated automatically. This approach improves productivity, quality and time-to-market. 

During a master class, organised on 1 February at the University of Antwerp, we will focus on product line engineering for smart product designs. International experts will give an introduction into the product line engineering approach and explain how product families can be defined and leveraged. Subsequently, you will learn through several testimonials from industry how product families are applied in smart product designs. Finally, we will discuss software tools for product line engineering as well as the current challenges, future and opportunities of product line engineering for smart product designs in a panel discussion with experts in this domain.

The master class is intended for people who wish to improve their use of product line engineering and for people who are still unfamiliar with this methodology. The master class is organised by Flanders Make at the University of Antwerp within the scope of its project "Efficient Software Controller Variant Development and Validation". The main goal of this project is to increase the efficiency of the development and validation process of mechatronic controller software variants. This efficiency gain will be achieved by applying business software product line methods and tools to industrial-scale mechatronic software development and validation processes.

During this master class, the following will be addressed:

  • why/when/how to use product line engineering in smart product designs

  • concepts of product line engineering in view of acquiring a common vocabulary

  • state of the art of product line engineering

  • applications and problems in the industry

  • challenges, future and opportunities of product line engineering in smart product designs




09:30 - 09:45

Welcome (Dr. Bart Meyers, Flanders Make and Prof. Dr. Hans Vangheluwe, University of Antwerp)

09:45 – 10:30

Introduction into Product Line Engineering (Dr. Andrzej Wąsowski, Full Professor at IT-University, Copenhagen, Danmark)

This presentation gives an introduction to product line engineering. Historical context and the emerging need for product line engineering as well as its purpose are explained. It is discussed when and how reuse by product line engineering can leverage your product portfolio.

Bio: Andrzej Wąsowski is Professor in Software Engineering at IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He has worked extensively on modeling and quality assurance for highly configurable systems, involving companies (Danfoss) and open source projects (the Linux kernel, the Robot Operating System). He co-designed the variability modeling language Clafer and contributed to the Common Variability Language (CVL).

10:30 – 11:15

Basic Concepts of Product Line Engineering (Dr. Øystein Haugen, Professor at Østfold University College, Halden, Norway)

A terminology is presented for product line engineering, based on the Common Variability Language (CVL) standardization initiative. Using this terminology, a generic technical overview of product line engineering is presented.

Bio: Øystein Haugen is now Professor in Computer Science at Østfold University College, Halden, Norway. He also has an adjunct position at SINTEF where he spent 8 years where the common theme was variability modeling. He championed the initiative to standardize a Common Variability Language (CVL) within OMG. Haugen has earlier participated in standardizing UML and related profiles within OMG. He led the standardization of Z.120 Message Sequence Charts within ITU 1996-2000

11:15 – 11:30

Coffee Break

11:30 – 12:00

ECoVaDeVa Project Presentation (Davy Maes, Project Manager at Flanders Make)

The ECoVaDeVa project is the driver behind this master class. The ECoVaDeVa project aims to improve the management of software for mechatronic product families by introducing a central variability model, adequate structuring of software models in different tools and by linking these software models come to a semi-automatic generation of controller software for a given variant.

Bio: Davy Maes obtained his MSc (electronics-ICT) at KH Kempen. He is currently working as a project manager at Flanders Make where he is leading research projects on model-based systems engineering and energy efficient system design. In the past Davy designed software for a family of multimedia products for Philips and NXP.

12:00 – 12:30

Industrial Case: Dana - Variability in Functional-Safety Related Processes Implemented at Dana (Bjorn Aelvoet, Team Leader Embedded Systems and Functional Safety at Dana Holding Corporation)

This presentation will focus on market- and compliance-related variability. This is the variability that is introduced from following certain standards, legislation or regulations. Managing this kind of variability will be explained by showing different kind of techniques introduced in the functional safety team at Dana. Special attention will be given on how functional safety and variability can co-exist.

Bio: Bjorn Aelvoet has the role of team leader at Dana Belgium NV and is responsible for the definition and roll-out of functional safety and system engineering processes over the entire Dana organization. He has 10+ years of experience in the mechatronic industry (automotive, commercial and off-highway vehicles) and is a certified functional safety engineer. Bjorn participated in several variability-related research projects and is subject-matter expert for variability handling techniques in the Dana organization.

12:30 – 13:30


13:30 – 14:00

Industrial Case: B/S/H/ - Capitalizing on Existing Products to Initiate a Software Product Line (Dr. Carlos Cetina, Associate Professor at Universidad San Jorge, Zaragoza, Spain)

In the context of the Induction Hobs of B/S/H/ (produced under the Bosch and Siemens brands among others), this presentation addresses the transition from existing products to a product line. Questions like “What is the influence of the product line in the maintainability of the products?” or “Does it pay off?” will be covered.

Bio: Carlos Cetina is associate professor in Computer Science at the San Jorge University. He is also the head of a young research group ( which is specialized in software variability. From Induction Hob Firmware to Train Control software, he pushes variability management to industrial settings.

14:00 – 14:30

Industrial Case: On Quest for the Grail – Implementing Product Line Engineering in Large Organizations (Dr. Hugo Guillermo Chalé Gongora, Product Line Engineering Director at Thales Group, Paris, France)

Based on different returns of experience, this presentation describes the typical journey large organizations have to undertake to implement Product Line Engineering (PLE). The different challenges these organizations have to face to define and implement a profitable PLE transition strategy, and the ways in which they can find their way in this quest will be addressed.

Bio: Dr. Hugo Guillermo Chalé Gongora is Product Line Engineering Director at Thales Group, in charge of the development and deployment of PLE for all the Business Units of the Group. Prior to Thales, he spent over 18 years in the energy infrastructure, automotive and railway sectors working on the implementation of PLE, Systems Engineering and MBSE. Guillermo is also Chair of the INCOSE PLE International Working Group and former founder and Chair of the INCOSE automotive working group.

14:30 – 15:00

Variant Management from a Tool Vendor's Perspective (Robert Hellebrand, Field Application Engineer at pure::systems)

This presentation highlights the recent needs and expectations of companies that wish to apply variant management to increase their engineering competitiveness and gives an overview of the challenges that arise out of those needs from the perspective of variant management and engineering tool vendors.

Bio: Robert Hellebrand works as a Field Application Engineer at pure-systems GmbH where he is concerned with the challenges of systematic reuse and product line engineering. Previously, Robert worked on the topic of variant management as a research assistant at the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering. He gives variant management trainings for customers and partners. He has been tutorial presenter and speaker at multiple scientific conferences.

15:00 – 15:30

Coffee Break

15:30 – 16:30

Panel Discussion: challenges and future of Product Line Engineering


Network Drink



Registration is mandatory. Please register for the event before 21 January 2018. Click here to register.

Registration fee:

  • Non-members: 150 euro (excl. VAT)
  • Members of Flanders Make: 75 euro (excl. VAT)
  • Members of ECoVaDeVa: free


The master class will take place at the University of Antwerp, Campus Middelheim, Middelheimlaan 1, 2020 Antwerpen. A dedicated parking area will be open from 9:00 until 9:45. Enter the parking area from the entrance on the Floralienlaan. Leaving the parking area is possible throughout the entire day.

01/02/2018 -
09:00 to 16:30
University of Antwerp, Campus Middelheim, Building G, Middelheimlaan 1, 2020 Antwerpen