The hunt for proper relation weights in product architecture clustering
Editor: Ekströmer, Philip; Schütte, Simon and Ölvander, Johan
Author: Williamsson, David; Sellgren, Ulf; Söderberg, Anders
Institution: KTH Royal Institute of Technology
A common view is that a module should be a functional building block, with well-defined and standardized interfaces between the modules, and that it should be chosen for company specific reasons. A modular product architecture is a strategic means to deliver external variety and internal commonality. Today, multiple modularisation methodologies exist to support the highly complex task to identify module candidates in the product architecting phase. One methodology is Modular Function Deployment with the Modular Indication Matrix (MIM) representation of company-specific module drivers. Other methodologies, such as Design Structure Matrix (DSM) clustering, may be used to identify modules from a technical complexity point of view. In this paper, the performance of the newly proposed Integrated Modularization Methodology (IMM), which is based on clustering of a strategically adapted DSM, is conceptually verified. The core of the IMM is to transfer company specific module drivers from the MIM into the component-DSM, before clustering this hybrid representation. A re-architecting industrial case, where a truck manufacturer with a unique business strategy had to redesign parts of its modular gearbox architecture to also become a First-Tier OEM-supplier to another large truck manufacturer, is used as test bench. Reverse engineering of the investigated gearbox architecture indicates that the current modules are most likely not only based on technical complexity concerns. They are rather derived from different types of business strategic aspects, e.g. outsourcing. The study also indicates that the IMM is capable of identifying clusters without strategic conflicts, and with the most similar result to the analysed architecture, which is assumed to be based on expert judgements.