Observations on modular product structures based on teaching product modularisation

Jarkko Pakkanen, Timo Lehtonen, Tero Juuti

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

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This paper studies modular product structures based on teaching product modularisation in a university course. In product modularisation, one of the most important tasks is to identify the appropriate partitioning logic for the product portfolio based on the business environment describing why each product element should be thought of as its own module or not. Central to this are the product structuring principles that create value for the company and the customer's variety requirements creating value for customers, as well as other requirements and boundary conditions set by the business environment for the chosen product. Based on the literature and empirical findings, product modularisation enables many benefits, especially in terms of reusing designs and supply chain elements, but modularisation as a product strategy is challenging to implement. It requires not only successful product development but also changes in company practices, such as delivery chain and new type of thinking and skills. In our university course for master's degree students, product modularisation has been taught for several years with the help of an exercise that utilizes the wheel loader set of Lego Technics. The main content of the exercise has been mainly similar in different implementations in 2017 -2020. The article presents the content of the assignment and analyses what kind of modular solutions based on the same assignment topic the students have implemented in different years and how different solutions have met the requirements of the assignment. The result of the paper is an analysis of the key partitioning types, i.e. the typical ways of partitioning a product into modules, what the pros and cons of each partitioning type are and how they fit into different requirements.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication31st CIRP Design Conference 2021 (CIRP Design 2021)
EditorsEric Lutters
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA4 Article in conference proceedings
EventCIRP Design Conference - Enschede, Netherlands
Duration: 19 May 202121 May 2021

Publication series

NameProcedia CIRP
ISSN (Electronic)2212-8271


ConferenceCIRP Design Conference


  • Modularisation
  • modularity
  • product family development
  • teaching

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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