Modular Engineering
An approach to structuring business with coherent modular architectures of artifacts, activities, and knowledge; Struktureret forretningsskabelse med sammenhængende artefakt-, aktivitets-, og videnarkitekturer

Year: 2001
Author: Dedenroth Miller, Thomas
Supervisor: Andreasen, Mogens Myrup; Michelsen, Aage; Mølgaard, Gert
Institution: Technical University of Denmark (DTU)
Page(s): 202
ISBN: 87-90130-30-8


This PhD thesis presents the idea that modularization of technical systems is not only about modularizing artifacts (products). In effect, it is an approach to structuring business with coherent, modular architectures of artifacts, activities, and knowledge. Only with such coherent architectures is it possible to harvest the potential advantage of modularization. This approach is in this thesis called modular engineering. Building on a review of perceptions of modularity in a historical perspective, the notion of a module in relation to technical systems is constitutively defined by means of general systems theory and theory of domains. Two different kinds of modularization are identified: single-system modularization and multiple-systems modularization. With this distinction it is possible to explain why two seemingly very different business strategies of mass customization and systemic customization both are based on modularization.
A generic model of modularization effects is presented just as prerequisites to pursue modularization in an engineering organization are outlined.Results from this research suggest that modularization may be used as a mechanism to manage design projects thereby reducing needs for intense coordination among design teams within a design project due to decoupling. However, this is contrasted by an increased need for high-level coordination among projects, which require a new approach to managing design projects with a split between strategic domain engineering and operational application engineering. Additionally, this research suggests that modularization may be used as a mechanism for structuring knowledge and managing competence of a company, as it provides a set of so-called mental coat hangers. This provides managers a tool for assessing, allocating and prioritizing resources for development of knowledge and company competence as well as it provides a mechanism, which facilitates organizational learning by structuring the learning space and stimulating innovation.
The thesis is heavily building of findings from the industrial partner of this industrial PhD project: Novo Nordisk Engineering AlS, just as it is based on comprehensive literature studies on modularization.
Denne ph.d. afhandling bygger pa antagelsen om, at modularisering af tekniske system ikke kun handler om modularisering af artefakter (produkter). Modularisering skal i stedet forstas som en made at strukturere forretningsskabelse med sammenhrengende artefakt-, aktivitets-, og videnarkitekturer. Kun med sadanne sammenhrengende arkitekturer er det muligt at heste de potentielt omfattende fordele ved modularisering. Dette kaldes i denne afhandling modular engineering. Med udgangspunkt i en historisk gennemgang af litteratur om modularisering gives i denne afhandling konstitutive definitioner pa et modul i relation til tekniske systemer baseret pa generel systemteori og den sakaldte domreneteori for tekniske systemer.
To forskellige slags modularisering er identificeret: enkelt-system modularisering og multi-system modularisering. Denne skelnen kan forklare, at to tilsyneladende meget forskellige forretningsstrategier, de sakaldte mass customization og systemic customization strategier, begge er baseret pa modularisering. En generisk model for modulariseringseffekter er prresenteret, ligesom forudsretninger for at opna succesfuld modularisering er opsummeret. Resultater fra dette forskningsarbejde peger pa, at modularisering kan bruges som en mekanisme til at styre tekniske udviklingsprojekter, fx projektering af produktionsanlreg, ved at reducere kravene til koordinering mellem forskellige design teams. Modularisering forudsretter imidlertid en eget koordinering mellem forskellige projekter, hvis genbrugs-og rationaliseringseffekter skal hestes. Dette krrever nye mader for organisering afprojekter: det er nedvendigt at adskille strategisk udvikling fra operationel, kundeorienteret udvikling. Endvidere peger dette forskningsarbejde pa, at modularisering kan bruges til at strukturere ingenierviden og til at styre virksomhedens kompetence. Innovation og organisatorisk lrering understettes ved at lreringsrummet nedbrydes i overskuelige elementer. Ledelsen i virksomheden tar pa denne made mulighed for lebende at vurdere viden og allokere og prioritere ressourcer til udvikling af kompetence. Dette forskningsarbejde bygger isrer pa iagttagelser fra den deltagende virksomhed i dette erhvervsforskerprojekt; Novo Nordisk Engineering AJS, men ogsa pa omfattende litteraturstudier.

Keywords: modular engineering, modularization, module, coherent architectures of artifacts, activities, knowledge, single-system modularization, multiple-systems modularization, generic modularization effects, innovation, design reuse

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