Modularization - Not Only a Product Issue
Paper in proceedings, 2004
A constantly increasing product variety forces companies to deal with complexity. Companies have adopted the concepts of platform development and modularization in order to deal with this complexity. Even though these concepts have been tested and discussed during several years both in practice and in academia, most companies and literature focus solely on the product. Companies seem to fail in their modularization efforts partly because they underestimate the effects, for example the wide effects that modularization has on different organizational functions. The purpose of this paper is to identify important modularization areas and issues, for which there is a need of further research. These are areas that are of crucial importance in accomplishing and implementing modularization in manufacturing companies.
We have spent the last five years doing research in the area of modularization. During this time, in-depth case studies were carried out at two vehicle-manufacturing companies. In addition to these results, we have done an interview-based survey with eight other companies. We have found that, in addition to the product, the product development process and organizational aspects are equally important to take into account when modularizing. Some cases are in this paper presented to illustrate these findings.
The main conclusion that can be made from the findings presented in this paper is that modularization concerns more than the product. Also, the organization and the product development process are of great importance. Hence, when modularizing making changes to the product only is not enough. The existing organization and the product development process also have to be adapted to better suite the modularization and be suitable for the development of modularized products.