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Controlling product complexityover time in a modular productarchitecture
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Industrial Economics and Management (Dept.), Industrial Management.
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Industrial Economics and Management (Dept.), Industrial Management.
2017 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The tradeoff between product variety and product complexity is widely recognized in academicliterature and modularization can be considered a strategy for addressing this tradeoff. Still,modularization does not clearly define how much product complexity and product variety is neededand how to control it. The purpose of this study is therefore to contribute with knowledge on how thistradeoff can be addressed, investigating how product complexity can be controlled over time in amodular product architecture.A case study at the global home appliance company Electrolux Group was conducted to investigatethe opportunities of modularizing the company’s North American dishwasher racks. The study isbased on results from conducting semi-structured, qualitative interview as well as on observationsmade at the case company. In addition to this, the Modular Function Deployment method was used tocreate an understanding of how the North American dish racks could potentially be modularized.This study has found both theoretical and managerial implications regarding how product complexitycan be controlled over time in a modular product architecture. Differentiating products by introducingnew module variants, rather than new modules, has been shown to be a more appropriate strategy formaintaining low product complexity when developing a product range. This can also be aided byutilizing module development within the product development organization. The study also highlightsthe importance of having clear strategic purposes for different modules, enabling product variety to beproduced efficiently with delayed product differentiation. With clear strategies for modules, the makeit or buy it decisions could also be guided.The issue of managing product complexity and product variety does not only apply to ElectroluxGroup. Although further research is recommended to explore the issue further, the findings of thisstudy are argued to be generalizable to all manufacturing companies using modular productarchitectures.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. , p. 80
Keywords [en]
Product complexity, modular product architecture, product differentiation, delayed product differentiation, module development.
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-214810OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-214810DiVA, id: diva2:1143451
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Examiners
Available from: 2017-09-21 Created: 2017-09-21 Last updated: 2017-09-21Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf