In previous postings I have asked about assembly variants and the management of the data associated with them. For this posting I am interested to hear about your feedback on a similar but different topic.
This is particularly common in the automotive market but I suspect it occurs anywhere a single PCB design board supports many different variants and these need to be managed dynamically on the manufacturing side as opposed to within the design flow.
Assembly variants are a common way of using the same bare PCB for different populations of components, or variants. Here components can be substituted for other components or not placed at all. This changes the functionality of the PCB, typically for different options of the same fundamental design, for example to support a product that needs to be tweaked for different regions that it might be sold in.
The specific area that I would like feedback on is allowing manufacturing, or at least post-design engineering the freedom to futher define new product variants. This allows faster introductions of a product than would have been the case if it had to go through a complete design change and affect the schematic and layout.
If this is something you have experience of I would appreciate your feedback on it, particularly with the respect to what degrees of freedom the original design gives you and how to know at what point the changes are going too far.