Expert Manufacturing Advice tailored for step-by-step implementation in the workplace. Small Manufacturers, Machine Shops and CAD Engineers improve and thrive with our hands-on help. Embodiment Design: Modular Design Benefits Including Modular Manufacturing Essential Product Development for Engineers
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Modular Design Benefits
The advantages of modular design are numerous. Some examples are listed below:
Modular Design Benefits and Features - Illustrated on an Engineering Concept
Modular Manufacturing Systems
The production facilities of a business can be developed and planned at the same time as the modular design of products. It is possible to arrange an assembly area so that it meets the exact requirements necessary to manufacture the product as efficiently as possible. If the product is modular then the production area can be modular too, with dedicated cells and equipment necessary to assemble a given module. The same way the different modules come together to form the complete product, these production cells should be organised so they feed the completed assemblies to the overall product, as it comes together.
Just like your product architecture, your modular manufacturing arrangement should be regarded as flexible, offering the possibility of it be rapidly changed and customised in order to assemble similar but different products. Again this enables the exact assembly requirements of different products to be met, as well as reducing the time to market for customised and new products. A future possibility is to sub-contract the assembly together with the layout, therefore allowing suppliers to manufacture and assemble efficiently. This minimises waste and lead-times whilst freeing up space and resources.
Keep it Simple and Clear
The key to successful Embodiment Design is clarity and attempting to keep things as simple as possible - crucial to obtaining modular design benefits. Identify separate product functions, group them into assemblies and then start considering the best way to achieve those functions. Get things written up to assist communication and clarity. Use diagrams to list how assemblies link together to form the whole. List the considerations likely to drive and guide the detail design of each of the assemblies.
Your Embodiment Design layout or diagram should be tailored to your product, to get the best modular design benefits. The complexity of the product will determine how detailed the considerations for each assembly need to be. A related consideration is the level to which you chose to ‘engineer’ the design of each assembly.
This is where Embodiment Design starts to cross into Detailed Design. Clearly there is no fixed answer, as every product differs. Indeed you could argue it is not hugely important. As long as the Embodiment Design for the whole product is completed and parts of the Detailed Design do not race ahead, this should be OK (unless this is intended for a particular reason, such as a known long development lead-time for a specific assembly).
The other significant consideration is to ensure there are adequate review points during development where design work can be scrutinised and key decisions taken. Also during review, the integration of the different assemblies or modules should be considered. Are they all still compatible? Do we need to further consider how they all link together?
Taken together, do all the modules still achieve the overall objectives identified and agreed in the specification and at the end of the Concept Design stage? Use the expertise of the cross-functional team to drive the Embodiment Design process, ensuring different disciplines are taken into account throughout and especially during review.
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