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The main objective of the research presented in this paper was to develop a new philosophy for the design of a product family (PF) and its assembly system. Most methodologies usually do not consider the interactions between these two design processes. Moreover, most "assembly-centered" concurrent engineering approaches do not deal with PFs. A research project, called CISAL, was initiated in Belgium in the late nineties to tackle this problem. The proposed tool is intended to be applicable to PFs and hybrid assembly lines (presenting manual, robotic and automated operations). It is subdivided into three interacting main modules: preliminary design for assembly (DFA) and assembly planning (AP); detailed DFA and AP; and line layout. The whole methodology is articulated around the functional entities (FEns), resulting from a first-order decomposition of the PF and aiming at reducing the complexity inherent to the design of multivariant products. All tools presented take this decomposition into account and treat design issues related to each FEn separately, considering the PF as an assembly of FEns. This paper presents the framework of CISAL, and the underlying methodology is illustrated on an industrial case study.