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Identifying and addressing challenges in the engineering design of modular systems – case studies in the manufacturing industry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Engineering Design
Early online date29 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2018
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


This paper focuses on the engineering design of modular systems in the manufacturing industry, in which companies can benefit from modular and configurable products that fulfil a variety of customer needs. The purpose of this paper is to study the types of challenges faced in the engineering design of modular systems and the types of support needed to address these challenges. The topic is studied via a literature review and seven industrial case studies. The analysis method for the case studies combines engineering and business perspectives. The engineering perspective highlights engineering concepts related to designing modular systems, while the business perspective focuses on related managerial issues. We find that the studied companies emphasised different aspects of modular system development, despite having similar high-level goals related to the benefits of modularity and design reuse. We also identify several challenges, along with the need for support related to the engineering design of modular systems in the manufacturing industry. Current engineering design practices related to modular systems are not sufficient to generate the typical benefits related to modularity and design reuse; organisations must also focus on other aspects of the design process, such as knowledge retrieval.


  • Design reuse, product variety management, modularity and standardisation, engineering design in industry, knowledge and information management

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Field of science, Statistics Finland

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