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Modularity and interface management - the case of Schindler Elevators

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Modularity refers to the scheme by which interfaces shared among components in agiven product architecture are standardized and specified to allow for greaterreusability and commonality sharing of components among product families. Themanagement of innovation through modular product architecture strategies is gainingincreasing importance for firms, not only in practice but also from a theoreticalperspective. It is argued that the degree of modularity inherent in a given productarchitecture is sensitive and highly dependent upon the number of components and theinterface constraints shared among the components, modules, sub-systems, andsystems. This paper applies a mathematical model, termed modularization function,for analyzing dynamics and the degree of modularity of a given product architectureby taking into account the following variables: number of components, number ofinterfaces, new-to-the-firm component composition, and substitutability factor. Theapplication of the modularization function is illustrated with two elevator systemsfrom Schindler Lifts of Switzerland: traction and hydraulic elevators. Thecomparative analysis of the elevators captures the sensitivity and dynamics of productarchitecture modularity created by three types of components (standard, neutral, andunique) and two types of interfaces (fundamental and optional).

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Juliana Hsuan Mikkola

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