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Module 1: Modular and Integrated Architecture

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Product Architecture

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Product Architecture
Good morning, welcome back to the discussion on product and portfolio architecture. In the
last class we discussed portfolio architecture and what are the different types of architectures
in the portfolio, and what is the method by which we can decide the number of products in
the family as well as the individual structure of the product. So, that is what we discussed in
the last class. Today, we will move to the product architecture.
So, the portfolio talks about the family, but then product architecture talks about individual
products, how do we actually identify the architecture of an individual product. We saw that
the product architecture is defined as a scheme by which the functional elements of a product
are arranged into physical building blocks and by which the blocks interact. So, we need to
check how these individual building blocks can be identified and then how we can have a
proper interaction between these individual building blocks.
So, as I mentioned earlier, the functional blocks need to be converted to physical blocks. And
then these physical blocks need to be identified, what are the functions that can be combined
or what functions need to be kept separate. So, that actually decides which are the building
blocks, the physical building blocks, and based on that we will decide the architecture of the
product.
Also we saw that we can actually have different modules in a product. If it is the modular
one, we can have different modules. So these modules are the chunks which actually provide
a set of functions in the product. So it is the, the physical chunks, which become the building
blocks for the product.
So the architecture basically depends on the ability to offer product variety. Okay, so, if you
want to have multiple products in the family, then the individual product architecture also
should satisfy that requirement, though you should be able to provide a family of products
without making too many changes in individual products. So, that is why we need to know
how this is going to affect the ability to offer a variety of products. Similarly, how is it going
to affect the product cost?
So, if you want to make every product as an individual one without much sharing of
components, then the cost will go up. So we need to make sure that without increasing the
product cost, we should be able to offer the product variety and accordingly we need to have
the product architecture. And then the design lead time and the process management. So,
these are the factors that will actually affect the product architecturing.
Let us look at these products, what you are seeing on the screen. So, if you look at this
product, as an individual product, you can see that there is only one physical chunk in this
product. All the functions needed in this product, this spanner is actually provided by one
physical element, there are no multiple elements, and there are no parts. So, it has all multiple
functions, it has to hold the nut head, it has to apply the torque, someone has to hold it, or we
should be able to use this for tightening or loosening different sizes of nuts.
So, we can actually see that all these functions are combined into a single physical block. So,
that is one type of architecture we can think of where all the functions can be mapped to a
single physical block or a physical chunk that can actually provide multiple functions in the
product. So that, that is one type of architecture you can think of in a product. So all these
products, so they are in the family.
Okay, they are actually a family of products but each individual product you take, if an
individual product is having only one physical chunk that provides you multiple functions.
And then of course, this, the family architecture, you should take the portfolio, then it is
actually unshared architecture, there is no sharing of anything in between, in between these
parts. Now take the example of this product. It is also doing the same function of a spanner,
only thing, this is an adjustable spanner, so we can actually have, and we can use it for
tightening or screwing different sizes of screw nuts or the screw heads, bolt heads.
Now, if you look at this product, you can see that it is actually not a single block, there are
two-three elements in this one. So there is an adjustment screw here and there is this movable
job and then you have a physical block. So you can actually say that it is providing this
function using two or three elements. And then if you want to have a, a different size for
adjustable size, you can actually use the same screw, the same kind of handle only thing that
we need to adjust, this part which actually needs to have a larger size or a smaller size. So,
this way, you will be able to provide multiple functionalities, and the functionalities are
actually provided using one or more elements.
So, here actually there are more physical chunks which actually helps you to provide the
function. And similarly you can actually see this one, so here all the individual products are
actually having multiple elements and when you combine these multiple blocks, you will be
able to provide the main function in the product. Individual elements will be having their own
function, but when you combine these multiple elements, the handle, the head, etcetera, if
you combine, then you will be getting different functionality.
So, that is one way of, the two ways in which you can actually identify, develop individual
products. Other examples are aeroplane if you take it, so, you can actually see that this
engine, there will be a slot in the main assembly, where you can actually attach the engine.
So, engines of various configurations can be connected to this one. Similarly, the fuselage,
the wings and other things, each one can be considered as a physical chunk which provides a
particular function, but then if you combine all these physical chunks you will get an overall
function of the product.
So, these are the two major architectures you can identify in products. So, we call this as an
integral architecture. So, when there is only one physical chunk which actually provides you
the function needed in the product, then we call it an integral architecture. When there are no
multiple elements, only a physical chunk, mostly one physical chunk is providing all the
functions then we call it as an integral architecture. And if there are multiple physical chunks
when combined together to give you a product, the product function, then we call it modular
architecture.
So, integral and modular are the two important architectures that can be thought of when you
have a product architecture. So, these are the main architectures used for designing products.
So, integral one will always look at combining all those functions into a single physical
chunk and modular, look for different modules which individual functions and then combine
them in different ways to get the function of the product update. So, these are the two major
architectures for products.
A modular and integrated architecture. So, a modular architecture, the chunks implement one
or few functional elements in the entirety, each functional element is the physical chunk that
is the modular one. So, you have multiple physical blocks, physical elements implementing
the functions to get the overall function of the products. Then the interactions between the
chunks are well defined, and are generally fundamental to the primary function of the
product.
So, if you have multiple physical elements then each, the function of each one is well
defined, and you know that how this can actually be integrated to the main building block.
For example, if you take this set of pen, so each pen or the mechanical pencil, you know that
there are multiple elements, each one has got its own function, the body has got some
function, the tip has got its own function and the control, and one has got its own function. So
each one has got its own function, so each is, each one is a physical block.
And when you combine these physical blocks, you get the function of the product. So that
kind of an architecture is known as modular architecture. But contrary to that, if you have an
integrated architecture, the functional elements of the product are implemented using. So in
this case, a single chunk implements many functions. So you have one single chunk, which
actually implements many functions in the products and the interaction between the chunks
are ill defined and maybe incidental to the primary functions of the products.
So that is the way how the integrated architecture is defined. So you can take an example of
this pencil. So, you can see in this pencil one chunk, which actually provides many functions
in the product. So, almost all the functions of this pencil are provided by the whole chunk
though there are multiple elements in this one, but each one is, everything is combined
together into a single element and it provides the function. It is very difficult to identify the
interaction between them, how each element is interacting is very difficult to identify, for
example, this lead, the tip and the wooden block.
So all these are actually integrated, and there is no separate interaction between them, or there
is no separate interface between these elements. So, that kind of an architecture is known as
an integrated architecture. So, these are the two major types of architectures that you can see
in the product. And most of the time as I mentioned earlier also, you will see more products
in the modular architecture, because that helps you to very limited products using integral
architecture.
So, these are some of the examples for this architecture. I will just take the trailer as an
example. You will see these kinds of trailers which are attached to the trucks to carry loads or
it can be attached to the truck and then you can take it. Now if you look at this as a product
and as its architecture, you can see there is a box which actually is to protect the cargo from
weather and there is a hitch which actually connects to the vehicle, so which is the hitch.
Then there is a fairing which is known as the fairing, which actually provides the air drag
reduction, then there is a bed at the bottom, then the supports the cargo loads, then the springs
which actually suspend the trailer structure and the wheels transfer loads. Now you can see
each physical block has got some function to do and it does that function and when you
combine them it provides the overall function of the trailer.
So, that is the typical modular architecture where you have multiple modules. Now, if you
want to change the fairing, so you feel that, okay, it is not providing you enough air drag or
there is a case where actually that is not any critical factor, then actually you can remove it
and then you can put something else there. Similarly, if you feel that the spring, the
suspension part is not doing well or it needs to be modified for a different application or
another product, you can easily change it and get a new product variety in the market.
So, that is the modular architecture. Now, if you have the same as an integral architecture.
Suppose you think that okay the trailer can be made as an integral architecture, because you
have a large requirement for this, so you need not make separate parts or assemble. So, you
can actually have it as an integral architecture where you will be having a structure like this.
Now you can see, this is the integral architecture. You have the upper half, lower half, you
can actually identify upper half, lower half, nose, cargo hang, straps, spring slot, covers and
wheels as the elements, but you cannot really identify them as a separate, each one doing a
particular function because all the functions will be actually it will be doing multiple thing
and you will not be having any separation between these individual physical chunk. So each
physical chunk may be doing multiple things and there is no definite interface between these
elements, so that kind of architecture is the integral architecture.
You can see that the upper half is actually to protect cargo, it can actually support cargo
loads, it can actually suspend trailer structure also. So, there may be many things which
actually this element is doing and very difficult to tell what actually each, each physical
chunk is doing in this case, together they provide the function that is the integral architecture
that you can see in this case. So, the same product can actually be designed with a modular
architecture or an integral architecture, but that depends on what the final outcome that we
are looking for.
In this case, if you are not looking for any large variations in the product, and you can
actually give the same product to everyone, you do not need to make it into separate
assemblies because, or different modules, because you are not going to change any modules
to get a different product. So in that situation, an integral architecture is one of the best
options for a product.
But if you are expecting a change in a variety of the product or people are looking for various
options in this particular product, then it should be always good to go for a modular structure
so that you can actually modify some of the modules to get a new product to meet the
customer's requirements. So, the decision whether to go for a modular or integral depends on
various market dynamics as we mentioned earlier, but these are the two architectures you can
always consider when we are going for a product design.
This is another example. If you look at this product, what you are seeing here, can you
identify what is this or what actually this represents? You can see there is a tool tip, there is a
mechanism to apply some force and there is a mechanism to increase the force here, and it
can do some cutting operation here and there is a spring which can actually bring it back also.
So, if you look at your nail clipper as a product, then you will see that this nail clipper is
actually having, if you take that as a modular structure, then you can see these are the
elements that you can actually have in a nail clipper. Because you can have an element,
function blocks which actually can use the apply force, a block which can actually increase
the force and then get the spring back and then say block which can actually provide the
cutting tips, the tooltip and this way, and there is a base which can actually be used for
applying the force, using a, applying the finger force.
If you look, a nail clipper as a modular structure, then actually you can, you will be able to
get this many modules. But most of the nail clippers are not designed in modular architecture,
they are actually made an integral architecture where you do not need to, you cannot really
change each one of these, because the functions are actually shared between the physical
sense and you will not be able to get a clear differentiation between the physical chunks
which provide the, the functions, okay.
If you look at the same as a clipper, you can actually see this is the nail clipper in an integral
architecture. So, this is an integral architecture where actually the physical block provides all
the functions and it is very difficult to distinguish between the different physical blocks and
their individual functions because there will be a lot of sharing of functions between the
elements and then you will not be able to see it as an individual module. So that is the integral
architecture and this is the modular architecture. And as I mentioned, the modular one is most
preferred, because the modular modules allow us to provide a variety of products. So,
depending on the portfolio architecture, you can actually take a call on whether to go for an
integral or a modular architecture.
This briefly mentions what are the factors that are affecting the architecture modularity; so
the product changes. So, if you think that the product may change after some time, then you
may have to go for a modular one and if you are expecting a number of varieties to be
brought into the market. Similarly, the standardization of components. Suppose there are
some standard components available for a particular function, then you can actually buy those
standard elements or you can develop the standardized components and then use it.
In that case, you do not have much of an option, you have to use those standards and then
develop the products. And then, the performance of integral architecture and the modular
architecture may not be the same depending on the number of modules and the interfaces that
you need to provide, the performance may degrade in some of the modular architectures and
some performance cannot be achieved in the integral architecture.
Looking at the product performance again you need to take a call on, to have that architecture
and then, the manufacturability and product development management. And if you make
everything as integral then the manufacturing will be a problem. So, you may not be able to
manufacture it in the form of an integral architecture, you may have to make it multiple
elements and then combine them. That also needs to be taken into account when we have to
decide the architecture of the product and of course, how long it will take, how much, how
many people may be needed in, if you go from one architecture to the other architecture so
that actually comes from the management aspect. So looking at all these, you need to take a
call on the architecture development or deciding the architecture.
Now, there are two ways to look at the modular architecture. Since we found that modular is
the most common, popular one, we look into the modular architecture and then see what are
the different types of modularity that are normally provided in the product, or normally
adopted in the product development. So, one is known as the function based modularity, that
is, based on the functionality of a product and how these functions are distributed, you can
identify the modules.
So, for each function you can identify a module and accordingly we can develop modules and
then make the product that is basically known as the function based modularity. But the other
modularity is basically on the manufacturing base modularity. So, some of the products may
require a lot of manufacturing and there will be different manufacturing techniques that can
be used for this.
So, depending on the manufacturing easiness we can decide okay this particular module is
easy to manufacture so let us make this as a particular module and some part can actually be
manufactured using a particular process, then there, all those, which requires that kind of a
process can be put into together as a module. So, this way depending on the manufacturing
requirement, we can identify modularity.
So, these are the two kinds of modularities, normally employed in the product architecture,
that is the function based modularity and manufacturing based modularity. Now, this
modularity if you look at the modular architectures, so these are, there are different ways in
which this modularity can be achieved in the product. Now, assuming that we are going for a
modular architecture, we can actually think of four types of modularity that can be brought
into the product based on the, mostly on the function based modularities.
So what we do is to look at how these modules can actually be combined together. And based
on that, we will identify the modularity. So, one of the most common modularities is known
as the slot modularity. In slot modularity, what we do is that we will have a basic assumption,
we have a basic platform available onto which we want to add modules. So, that kind of
modularity where we provide some kind of slots in the product.
So we provide a slot, this kind of a slot or we provide a slot like this and then we can actually
add components whichever component actually meets this slot, we can add to this. Similarly,
we have a product, a module, which actually has got this slot or a component with this slot.
So, this base platform, so we call this as the platform, based platform and these are the slots
available.
Any module with a slot like this can be attached to this product that is the slot modularity. So,
if you take an example of an aircraft, you will see that there will be a slot for an engine. So,
any engine which actually has this kind of slot can be fitted to this particular aircraft.
Similarly, you have an air conditioning system and any air conditioning system which has got
a slot like this to suit this product can be fit into this.
It does not matter whether who is manufacturing it, what is the other specification and all as
long as this actually matches the slot that is available, you will be able to fit into this product.
So, that kind of modularity is known as slot modularity. So, you can actually see many
products in this format. If you take your power tools, electrical drills, hand drills or any other
electrical drills, there will be a slot for an electric motor.
As long as the motor has got a slot or interface suitable to this machine, you will be able to
connect any motor. So it does not really matter what kind of motor so as long as it is actually
having the same slot, you will be able to connect. So that kind of products are having this slot
modularity. So this is one of the commonly used modularities in the products. Especially in
the modular architecture, you will be having this slot modularity.
Another one which is commonly used in computers and other electronic products is known as
bus modularity. So, bus modularity is that you have a platform. So, you have a platform and
in this platform you have one slot. So, this slot is having a common, a common slot in this, so
this is known as the bus, okay. So, the basic connecting element is known as the bus. Now,
any element which has got a slot, I mean interface slot like this can actually come into here.
It can be anyone can be like this, or it can be like this or it can be like this or anything can
actually come into this as long as the modularity is, sorry the slot is safe. So, for example in a
computer, it will be a bus which connects, so you can actually connect a RAM, you can
connect a hard disk, and you can connect a communication device. So, anything can be
connected to this bus as long as the slot is like this, so that is the bus modularity.
So, in bus modularity your interface is the same and any module with that interface can
actually come into this. In the previous slot modularities there are multiple interfaces
possible, so you can actually have multiple components with that kind of interface can
actually go into the product. So, that is the slot modularity and bus modularity in products.
And so the best architecture, so you have the same interface, okay bus modular architecture,
here you have multiple interfaces. Now, another one architecture is known as the sectional
modularity. Sectional modularity is that in these two architectures, you have a base platform,
you have a base platform or a base structure to which you add the modules, that is the bus
modularity and slot modularity.
But in the case of sectional modularity, there is no basic structure so everything you have,
what you have is a module. So, you have multiple modules, and then when you combine all
these modules, you get a structure, okay? There is no basic structure to which you add
modules, but every module can actually become part of a structure. So that kind of an
architecture is known as sectional modularity.
So sectional modularity you can see that each one is an individual module, but then they have
the interfaces and you connect these interfaces, I mean these modules to perform a structure
so that you can actually have different structures identified, or you can develop different
products based on this kind of architecture. So, this is a typical example of furniture, office
furniture. So, you can see office furniture there will be basic platforms, you have basic
modules, the top plate, the legs and then the support plates, etcetera.
And then you start assembling them in different ways, you get different products that are
basically the sectional modularity. So, you have sectional modularity where there are no basic
elements or basic platform, but every module contributes to make a structure or a product that
is the sectional modularity. And the last one is the mix modularity, where you can have a
combination of all these things.
There is no specific modular structure here, you can have a slot modularity, bus modularity,
or sectional modularity and then when you combine all these, you will be getting a product.
So most of them, these Lego kits, if you might have seen the Lego kits. So, you will see that
you can actually combine the different modules or different blocks and get a structure. And
each one will be having either a slot modularity or a bus modularity or a sectional modularity
and then you take each one of these and then assemble them properly, you will be getting a
product.
So that kind of thing is known as the mixed modularity. So, in any individual product
architecture, you can see these kinds of modules or the modular structure that is either a slot
modularity, or a bus modularity or a sectional modularity or a mix modularity happening.
And what kind of modularity you want to provide in the product depends again on the
product and other, all other factors that we discussed. So, the designer can actually take a call,
what should be the modularity they want to provide.
And there are many cases there will be both slot and bus modularity because if you take even
computer, you will see there it is a combination of slot and bus modularity, because all those
processors and other things will come under with the bus modularity or the connection to the
processors and the RAM and things like that will be using a bus modularity, but then the
other elements like your USB drives or your power supply units, these can come under the
slot modularity.
So not that you can use only a particular one. So you will be always having a mix of these
slot or bus modularity depending on the product and the other aspect where actually what
kind of modules you want to offer in the family. So that is about the product architecture, the
two types of product architecture. The first one is an integral architecture where you have one
physical chunk providing the overall function and multiple functions in the product.
And in the modular architecture you will have different physical chunks each one providing a
function and then when you combine all these chunks you will be getting the total function of
the product. So, and again you will be having within the modular architecture you can have
either a function based or a manufacturing based modularity. So, that completes the
discussion on what are the different types of architectures you can have.
Now, the question is that, how do we actually decide the module? Suppose we want to go for
a modular architecture based on requirements of the product and the customer's needs, you
decide to go for a modular architecture for a product. The question is, how do you decide the
module within the product? Yes, it can have, you will be having a lot of functions required in
the product and then you need to know how these functions can be grouped together to have
physical blocks.
And if you are actually combining all those functions into a single physical block it becomes
an integral architecture. And if you are actually trying to make them into different physical
channels then it becomes modular. But then how do we actually combine these functions to
make them individual blocks or how do we actually decide the number of modules and the
elements within the module? So, that is the next question.
Here we use two methods to get the modules. The first one is known as a basic clustering
method and the second one is known as module heuristics. So, the basic clustering method,
what we will do, we look into the functional block of the product and then based on our own
understanding, we try to group them together, some of the blocks we will see over this,
blocks are, blocks seems to be common or it has got many things common and therefore, we
put them together and then make it as a module and that is basically known as the basic
clustering method.
Without any logic or any particular rule, we try to start clustering them and identify the
modules that are known as basic clustering methods. And the second one is the module
heuristics, where we try to use some kind of a logic or heuristic method to get the module, so
that is the module heuristic. So there we use some kind of a rule to say that okay if these
things are there, then you made them together, so that is the module heuristics. First let us
look at the basic clustering methods and then we will see the module heuristics.
So, in the basic clustering methods, the steps involved in getting the module are the first
method is to create a function structure. So, we know what a functional structure is. So using
the flow methods we can create a function structure that is the first step. So, any product, you
try to identify the functions using the flow method. So we will identify all those products, the
functions and then see how it is going.
Of course, there will be energy material and flow going. And similarly, we will be getting
energy, material and flow coming out. So, using this you identify all those functions needed
in the product. So that is the function structure, then cluster the elements into module chunks.
Now, based on this, you cluster these, the functions into modules, provided they share a
common primary connection.
So combine as many sub functions into a module, provided they share a common primary
connection material, energy or signal. So, you look