Title: The representation of module interfaces

Authors: Bernhard Bettig, John K. Gershenson

Addresses: Design Computations Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, West Virginia University Institute of Technology, Montgomery, WV 25136-2436, USA. ' Life Cycle Engineering Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931-1295, USA

Abstract: Modular design issues are receiving increased attention from companies interested in reducing the costs from carrying large numbers of components while, at the same time, increasing product quality and providing customers with greater product variety. Existing research has focused mainly on optimising product platforms and product offerings, with little attention being given to the interfaces between modules. This research presents an investigation into how module interfaces are best represented in a Computer-Aided Design/Product Data Management (CAD/PDM) environment. The representation decisions are identified and the advantages and limitations for each option are presented. Representation decisions revolve around issues such as the use of higher abstraction models, the use of ports, and referencing interface components in interface definitions. We conclude that higher abstraction models are necessary, ports should be represented explicitly and interface hardware should not be included directly with the interfaces. The research considers a large number of components from representative products offered by a home appliance manufacturer.

Keywords: modularity; product design; module interfaces; modular design; computer-aided design; CAD; product data management; PDM; product quality; product variety; product platforms; product offerings; representation decisions; higher abstraction models; ports; interface components; interface definitions; hardware; home appliance manufacturing; new product development; NPD.

DOI: 10.1504/IJPD.2010.031976

International Journal of Product Development, 2010 Vol.10 No.4, pp.291 - 317

Published online: 03 Mar 2010 *

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