Challenges of Product Modularization Methods in SMEs: Lessons Learned from a Manufacturer of Rigid Inflatable Boats

DS 122: Proceedings of the Design Society: 24th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED23)

Year: 2023
Editor: Kevin Otto, Boris Eisenbart, Claudia Eckert, Benoit Eynard, Dieter Krause, Josef Oehmen, Nadège Troussier
Author: Silva, Tiago; Santos, Cláudio
Series: ICED
Institution: INEGI - Instituto de Ciência e Inovação em Engenharia Mecânica e Engenharia Industrial
Section: Design Methods
Page(s): 0847-0856
DOI number:


Nowadays, Western rigid inflatable boat (RIB) manufacturers are facing increased competition from Asian and Middle East producers and the need to push the modularization of their product architecture. Many modularization techniques have been developed to support this effort, being the Modular Function Deployment a well-established multi-stage modularization technique with applications in several industries. Despite the reported literature, the challenges and learnings from the application of modularization techniques have focused on large organizations and complex product systems. In this paper, a case study is presented with the objective of analysing the MFD process implementation in the context of an SME manufacturer of RIB. A learning framework focused on the project and process perspectives is used to facilitate the systematic extraction of lessons from the experience of the MFD implementation. This paper contributes to the modularization techniques literature by observing a modularization method as a learning process and makes it evident the call for more investigation on the implementation process of modularization methods.

Keywords: MFD, Modular Design, Case study, Product architecture, Design learning

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