What Is The Modularization Information Technology Essay

Modularization is currently in focus as a meaning for increasing competitiveness of industrial companies. This is achieved by bridging the advantages of standardization and rationalization with customization and flexibility. There are three definitions of the terms which needs to be clarified: module, modularity, and modularization.

The definition of the term module has changed over time from being defined by the physical presence into being defined by structure and functionality.

Modularity is a combination of systems attributes and functionality of the module itself. There are seven mayor modularity concepts: component sharing modularity, component swapping modularity, bus modularity, sectional modularity, fabricate to fit modularity, mix modularity and stack modularity.

Modularization has evolved in an industrial context. There are three basic drivers behind the desire for modularity: modularization in product, modularization in production and modularization in inter-firm system. Modularization in design represents creation of variety, modularization in production represents the utilization of similarities and modularization in inter-firm system represents a reduction of complexities (Andrea Prencipe, 2003)

Modularization does not mean that there is less assembly work required for manufacturing a

truck. It simply means that there is reorganization in regard to who is doing what in the value

and supply chain, with more sub-assembly work done by the suppliers. There is trend from

complete assembly done by OEM to important sub-assemblies to be outsourced. This might

not be irreversible, as assembly firms try to find the most beneficial approach for them that

will be accepted by suppliers. A big part of the added value comes from the assembly

operations. (Zima, 2005)

Modularization types

There are three types of concepts in modularization. These concepts are:

Modularization in products (architecture)

Modularization in production

Modularization in inter-firm system

Modularization in products

Modularization in Products focuses upon product architecture and the required interrelationship between product function and structure. Achieving this ‘one to one correspondence between the products subsystems and their functions’ allows modules to be designed with a high degree of autonomy and reduces the interdependence with other modules in essence, this refers to introducing and achieving modularity in product design. Others concur with the issue of interdependence, as they describe modularity in design as something which ‘intentionally creates a high degree of independence or ‘loose coupling’ between component designs. Figure 1.1 .

(Robert Trimble, 2008)

The left diagram is a schematic representation of the so-called “integral” product. Since the elements making up the product function (the left triangle) are interrelated with those making up the product structure (the right triangle) in a complex manner, the designer of Subsystem [S1] has to take the following factors into account:

functional interdependence with the other subsystems (such as s1←f1←s2, and s1←f2←s2)

structural interdependence with the other subsystems (physical interference, for example, s1←s2)

Interdependence with the design of the entire system (consistency with the design of the whole system, s1←S1←S) 4) interdependence between the sub-functions (such as f1_f2, and F1_F2).

Figure 1 1.

“Modularization in product” decreases such interdependence between the concerned elements. It allows one-to-one correspondence between the subsystems and their functions, and enables, for example, the designer of Subsystem [S1] to focus solely on Sub-function [F1] and [S] (the structure of the product as a whole). The subsystem becomes a “module with a self-contained function,” which can be designed more autonomously. Remaining interdependence after modularization can further be reduced if the interfaces between the elements are simplified and standardized as much as

possible. (Takeishi, 2001)

Modularization in production

Modularization in production describes the manufacturing system structure where, as a result of a

modular product design, the product is produced from a series of modules each assembled on a sub-line before transfer to the product assembly line. A non-modular manufacturing system would be as a result of the product structure not containing any ‘structurally cohesive large modules’. (Robert Trimble, 2008).

Modularization can be illustrated with a similar diagram shown in figure It is comprised of the “Product Structure Hierarchy” (right triangle) and the “Product Process Hierarchy” (left). In order to simplify the explanation, among the whole manufacturing processes, the focus here only on assembly work in the “Product Process Hierarchy.”

The former hierarchy is built up in pursuit of “functional independence” of each subsystem (i.e., the degree to which a function of the product is achieved by a single subsystem), while the latter is made up for “structural cohesiveness” (i.e., the degree to which a collection of parts can be physically handled as one unit). The latter hierarchy is intended to contribute to “structurally cohesive modules” which are easy to manage material handling and quality control.

Figure 1 1.

The left diagram represents non-modular production processes. Without any “structurally cohesive large modules,” the product is to be assembled from eight small modules (s1 to s8) at the same hierarchical level on one long main assembly line. On the contrary, in the right diagram, there are two structurally-cohesive modules “S1 and S2” on the right, and two subassembly lines to build them and one short main line for finished products on the left (remember the famous watchmaker story in Simon 1969). It can be said that the “Product Structure Hierarchy” with cohesive modules is translated into the “Product Process Hierarchy” with one main line and two subassembly lines. (Takeishi, 2001)

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Modularization in inter-firm system (outsourcing subsystems in larger units to outside suppliers)

‘Modularization in Inter-firm Systems’- describes the situation where ‘large modules are assembled by suppliers on their own assembly lines and are delivered and assembled into finished products on the main line of the automaker’ This facet of modularity is essentially the outsourcing of the assembly of the module to the supply base. (Robert Trimble, 2008)

“Modularization in inter-firm system,” which has drawn increasing attention in the European auto industry, entails outsourcing subsystems in large units (cohesive modules) to suppliers. The left diagram is a schematic representation of production with a higher in-house ratio, in which small modules (s1 – s8) are delivered by outside suppliers. On the contrary, the right represents production based on a highly modular supplier system, in which large modules are assembled by outside suppliers on their subassembly lines, and are delivered and assembled into finished products on the main line of the manufacturer.

Figure 1 1.

Overall, the three facets of modularization and their interrelations can be illustrated within the same framework of multiple hierarchies as shown in the three pairs of diagrams. Product engineers, process engineers, and purchasing managers must make decisions about the product and process hierarchies and the inter-firm boundaries, while securing close coordination between them. It is obvious that these three facets of modularization must not be mixed up. At the same time, it is also clear that these decisions are interrelated with each other. They are the processes of making decisions about interrelated hierarchies of product functions, product structure, and production processes. There is always a possibility of some inconsistency or conflict between the decisions. In a sense, the most critical challenge in modularization is how to avoid or overcome such inconsistency and conflict through coordination. (Takeishi, 2001)

Modularity types

There are different types of modularity used in industry. An overview of the most common types can be found in Figure 1.1 (Erikstad, 2009).

Figure 1.1 A more detailed division into different modularity types

Component-sharing modularity there are single modules used in different products. The same module can be used in a completely different product family.

Component-swapping modularity occurs when there are more alternative basic components can be paired with the same modular components creating different product variants belong to the same product family.

Bus modularity is used when a module with two or more interfaces can be matched with any number of the components selected from a list of basic components. The interfaces accept any combination of the basic components. Bus modularity allows variations in the amount and the locations of the basic components in a product. Component-swapping and component-sharing

modularity allows only variation in the types of basic components.

Sectional modularity is used when there is any number and combination possible by the configuration. Each module can have one, two or more interfaces. There are only a few limitations.

Fabricate to Fit Modularity

One or more standard components are used with one or more infinitely variable additional components. Variation is usually associated with physical dimensions that can be modified. An example for this kind of modularity is a cable assembly. The connectors of the cable are standard and the length of the cable is variable.

Stack modularity is the method where a collection of modules can be connected to create a unit with a value in some dimension that is the sum of the individual modules. The modules must be of the same type but it can be either a combination of identical modules or a combination of different sizes of a module.

Mix modularity combines different components into something new, for example paint or concrete.

What are the pro’s and con’s of modularization?


Reduce time and labor hours required for assembly process

Introducing modularization makes the assembly faster and less complicated, by installing complete preassembled modules the production is more efficient with the result of reducing time and labor.

Reduction of Labor Cost

Because the supplier orders and assembles the parts into a module this time is saved at the one production. Also ordering a module is less labor-intensive compared to construction standards ordering.

Completion of Just-In-Time System

One Effects of modularization is for example the decreasing numbers of parts with the effect that JIT is more manageable

Cost Reduction Effect

By increasing the amount of module suppliers the risk of stationary production decreases. If one supplier is not able to deliver on time he gets displaced by the next one .

Easy upgrading :

Once modularization is implemented, one module can be upgraded easy. This way the system can be always up to date .

Changing a module has no effects to the entire design.

Dividing a product into components and interfaces allows changes without affecting the entire design.

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Modularization Breaks down problems into smaller and simpler parts

By definition of modularity, the concept enables designers to break the problem into smaller and simpler parts

Sharing Modules

Designee teams can share or use again components from other designs, development time can be decreased.

More effective designing  

Another benefit of modularity is that it enables engineers to focus more directly on their own module, often leading to a more effective design solution. 


Designing modules is more difficult

Designing for modularity is more difficult and takes more effort than designing a construction standard system. Determining how to separate a system into modules and how these modules will interconnect is the root of the problem.

Tunnel Vision

Once the design is complete, product development is simplified by modularity The possibility exists that designers will not think to look at an other methods or solutions. Such tunnel vision may minimize the overall quality of the design.


Almost always performance can be improved over a modular design, because the elimination of interfaces reduces weight and size. moreover, it is sometimes difficult to integrate modules, designed by different teams, and to make them work together optimally.


communication between teams is the potential for redundancy


Often when one part of a module needs to be replaced the only way is to replace the hole module. It is also command that it is not possible to order just one particular part only the hole module.

The benefits of modular supply for the assembler are cost reduction, increase of the low-scale

assembly efficiency, and minimization of investment requirements in new plants (Humphrey

and Salerno, 2001), as outsourcing allows the automotive manufacturer to allocate part of the

investment to the suppliers who will be located near the assembly plant (Lung, 2001, Lewis

and Wight, 2000). From their side, the suppliers can decrease the financial involvement in the

new production location of the client by associating themselves with local partners. In this

case they have to ensure that the international standards of competitiveness (productivity,

quality, logistics etc) will be reached (Lung, 2001). VOLVO.pdf

Sectors which apply modularization

Figure 1 1.

Around 1990’s up till now the industries have developed from designing and developing one-of-a-kind products units, towards more standardized and modular products. With these standardized methods a large number different product can be product to satisfy the customers (Erikstad, 2009).

Throughout the industries, many companies in differed sectors have adopted some kind of modularisation in their organisation. Each sector or company that adopted modularization is unique in their solutions how to implement this strategy. The sectors on the frontiers of modularisation are the automotive, Mechanical engineering, Special machinery/Plant engineering, these sectors modularisation is widely used. There are many more sectors where modularisation is practise (Berger, 2012). In the diverse industries there are numerous examples how modularisation is implement to the benefits of companies.

The in automotive basic platforms are used in many different models or brands. This is the same in electronics were components are extensive reuse both across different brands and across different product types. Software companies split up their complex software systems to able to work parallel and reduce the complexity of the program (Jacobsen, 2003). For building ocean going cargo ship it is almost impossible to build a ship without modularisation because of the size and complexity (Gockowski, 2005)The benefits reported are reduced cost, shorter development cycles and the ability to maintain a broad product range while standardizing and reducing the number of different components and configuration elements. (Erikstad, 2009)

Companies which apply modularization successfully

In this chapter the most successful companies which apply modularization will be described.

The companies are divided in different kinds of sectors ( see Figure 1 1.)(Berger, 2012):

– Automotive

– Mechanical engineering

– Special machinery/ plant engineering

– Electronics

– Medical engineering

– Railways

– Heating / climate

– Automation

– Power tools

– Other



Scania is a very well known company which use the modularization strategy since 1930s. Scania’s unique modular product range is one of its most important success factors. Since each product of Scania is made entirely on the basis of the customer’s business and the real-world situation, it ensures the best possible performance and quality. Meanwhile, the modular product system lowers Scania’s costs, since by using a limited number of components the company can give each customer an optimised product. This business model is one important reason why Scania has been profitable every year for six decades and often describes its relationship with customers as a “win-win” situation. (Fagrenius, 2012 )

Car manufacturing

A lot of car manufacturers produce by a modularisation strategy. With this modularization different parts are produced and can be fit together on different types of cars. Some examples of car brands which change the same parts on different types are Volkswagen, Seat and Audi. (MILTENBURG, 2003)

Mechanical engineering



The Norwegian Marine Technology Research Institute (MARINTEK) performs research and development for companies in the field of marine technology. This companies develops ships on a modularization strategy. The whole ship is divided in modules which are separately fabricated. (Erikstad, 2009)

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Damen shipyards is the biggest company in the Netherlands which designs and manufacture on base of modularisation. (Damen, 2013)

Ship equipment

The equipment on a ship and in the engine room is designed and manufactures in modules. These modules are manufactured and assembled in the workshop, and are fit together on a ship ( as a “block”). This is a successful way to produce because of many technological, services and economical aspects. Some companies which are manufacturing on this way are ‘Marine service Noord’ and Impas, and Alfa laval. (Noord, 2013) (Laval, 2013)

Product manufacturing

There are a lot of production companies which use the modularization strategy. They have their focus on reducing delivery time and production costs. Some well known production companies in the Netherlands are Phillips, VDL, Burgers trailers, Hytrans fire systems and Vanderlande. (TNO, 2008)

Special machinery/ plant engineering

Siemens Power plant

Based on our extensive experience in building power plants, Siemens has developed innovative combined cycle reference power plants, known as Siemens Combined Cycle (SCCâ„¢) turnkey plants. Suited for applications from 100 MW to over 850 MW per unit, these plants help you to meet the challenges of a dynamic market and are designed to optimize planning, implementation times and lower life-cycle costs. (AG, 2008)

Nuclear power plants

For currently operating U.S. nuclear plants, the average construction period was 9,3 years; the longest was 23,5 years. In Japan, close attention to modularization and construction sequencing has reduced construction times for the ABWR reactor design. (Lee Presley, 2009)


Fluor has pioneered the economic advantages and commercialization of modular construction. Fluor’s proven performance showcases large-scale modular construction across a variety of Client industries. From brutal arctic winters working the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline, or offshore oil and gas platforms in Trinidad & Tobago, or state-of-the-art biotechnology facilities, to the new San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge, Fluor has successfully utilized modular construction to address Client challenges. (Fluor, 2013)


Hitachi has been developing and perfecting modularization technology to facilitate domestic nuclear power plant construction since the early 1980s, and it has made great strides in rationalization. Modularization is the ideal plant construction technique for reduced costs, higher quality, improved safety and shorter construction times. We believe that modularization technology is one of the best solutions for the current plant construction environment. (Maru, 2002)

Oil and gas industry

Linde BOC Process Plants LLC

Modularized construction has many positive aspects to consider. The modules contain the equipment, piping, heat tracing, electrical instrumentation systems, specialized coatings, fire protection, ladders, and platforms. Modules can be horizontal, vertical, single level, or multi-level depending on the plot space, equipment, and required piping configuration. The optimum

split of modular & field construction efforts is determined for each individual project based upon such factors as local labour costs, transportation limitations and schedule. (Laar, 2008)

Electronics and automation


Philips is one of the largest television manufacturers in the world. Fierce competition in the television market is leading to smaller profit margins, price erosion, shorter time to market, and a battle for shelf space. To remain competitive, we must minimize the bill of material and the cost of system development. Minimizing the bill of material puts constraint on the resources of a television, such as memory, bandwidth, CPU cycles, and footprint. We minimize the cost of system development by modularization.


The Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) concept, which replaces numerous separate processors and line replaceable units (LRU) with fewer, more centralized processing units, is promising significant weight reduction and maintenance savings in the new generation of commercial airliners (Ramsey, 2007).

Medical engineering


Already in the early days of CAN, Philips Medical Systems noticed the advantages of CAN and decided to use this network protocol as communication network for interconnecting various components such as collimators, generators, and patient tables in their X-ray systems. To achieve a modular and open approach, a group within Philips Medical Systems, managed by Tom Suters, developed the first higher layer protocol for CAN, the CAN Message Specification (CMS), which was presented to the public in 1992.

Heating / climate

The integrated modular cooling solutions combine multiple components designed to fit your specific requirements and specifications. This integrated solution not only reduces the total number of suppliers, but it also drives down your overall costs (laval, 2013)

Power tools

Black & Decker

The patented MATRIX modular tool system offers performance and value in a simple and practical way for power tool users to grow their toolbox at their own pace. With this system, users can access some of the industry’s most popular types of tools which were traditionally limited to professionals while offering savings up to 42% versus purchasing bare tools separately. (Decker, 2013)

Control of modularization

Joery stuk btp btf etc

Key elements

Key elements modularization

Internal key elements

Product design etc

External key elements

Suppliers etc

Boundary conditions

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