A preliminary proposal towards unambiguous definitions for Modular Interfaces and Interactions

DS 94: Proceedings of the Design Society: 22nd International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED19)

Year: 2019
Editor: Wartzack, Sandro; Schleich, Benjamin; Gon
Author: Fiorineschi, Lorenzo; Rotini, Federico
Series: ICED
Institution: University of Florence
Section: Product Architecture and Modularization
DOI number: https://doi.org/10.1017/dsi.2019.301
ISSN: 2220-4342


Modularity is acknowledged to provide benefits across the whole product lifecycle. Accordingly, many literature contributions can be found about modularization methods, metrics and definitions. In particular, recent studies focused on the development of heuristic principles for exploiting modularity early in the design process. However, to design modules it is necessary to define their mutual interactions, the related interfaces and their production strategies. Concerning interfaces and interactions, this paper highlights that current definitions are often ambiguous and overlapping each other. Therefore, extracting univocal information about interfaces and interactions of existent modular products could be difficult. This could hinder the identification of comprehensive heuristic design guidelines, about how to design modules from a structural point of view. This paper proposes a new set of interface and interaction definitions, which allows to overcome the flaw observed for current ones. The proposed set and the classical one have been applied on 110 products identified on the web, showing that the new definitions allow to extract more reliable information.

Keywords: Modularity, Product architecture, Early design phases, Conceptual design, Modular design


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