Blog

Mike de Jong

Senior Industrial Engineer

Modular design in practice.

A widely used technique for designing a product or a product line is modular design. We previously wrote about what the term modular design withholds. This technique is often attractive for both the customer and the manufacturer for more complex products. In this blog, Senior Engineer Mike explains how we use modular design in practice!

The advantages
The advantage of splitting your product into modules is that it simplifies the production of a complex system. A product gets sub-assemblies between which the interaction is limited. This means that, for example, several people can work on different sub-assemblies at the same time. Besides the fact that this can shorten the design time, it also has the great advantage that a defective product does not have to go straight into the trash. By building up your design in a modular way, it is only necessary to replace the defective part of the product. This defective module could possibly also be repaired and thus put back into circulation.

This makes it attractive for the producer as well as for the dealer and/or consumer. So there are shorter design times, lower costs, flexibility in modules and limited stock is needed because not every part has the same longevity.

We always think about the lifespan of our products. For example, by installing a special flap in the cassette profile of the above sun protection, the fabric roll can be replaced effortlessly without having to disassemble the entire frame. An example of a modular design.

Modular design in a product line
The composition of a product line can also be approached in a modular way. By ensuring that the products give customer loyalty, for example. When the products of one brand can be linked together in a neat and easy way, your customer will be more inclined to buy product B after product A. If possible, it would of course be very nice if you could also reuse the modules in other products. This reduces the diversity of parts and this in turn will make the logistics department happy.

An example of linkable designs are the products we developed for Lewens. Glass roofs can be connected to glass panels to form a cube and different types of sun blinds can then be attached above or below the roof. Products are effortlessly linked without compromising aesthetics.

Flexibility vs. functionality
Of course there are disadvantages to every method and modular design also has downsides. The danger of this technique is the creation of a centipede. To be as flexible as possible and to make the module usable in too many situations. Not only can this slow down the design process, but it can also make parts unnecessarily heavy or complex. As a result, a good decision must always be made. Designing is looking for the balance between the flexibility of a product and whether it does not become overly complex and expensive for the application.

At Fabrique Invent we are very focused on modular design. We have a large number of regular customers who repeatedly want a follow-up design after the first product. Often these products must be linkable or parts must be reused from the previous design. In other words; the creation of 'Lego blocks'.

In addition, we strive to design the modules in such a way that all sub-assemblies can already be pre-assembled in the factory. This minimizes assembly time and manpower on site. But it also affects the complexity of the work in the field, because the difficult operations are already done in the factory by people who have knowledge of the product. This ensures that dealers and consumers who buy products from our customers have little costs for istalling our products.

Mike is a Senior Industrial Engineer at Fabrique Invent.

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