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6.18 - Modular Function Deployment (MFD)

Researchers have tried to improve the QFD process by modifying the current process design. One example of such a modification is Modular Function Deployment (MFDTM).

The MFD concept closely follows the well-known Quality Function Deployment (QFD) methodology, with the addition of a “modularity” concept. The first step utilizes the QFD matrix to determine customer requirements, slightly modified by putting “modularity” in as the first design requirement. The MFD concept later introduces Module Drivers, which translate a company’s objectives into guidelines for modularizing product design. There is an important difference between standardization and modularization.

While standardization may seem attractive from a cost and quality perspective, it can constrain choices and lead to conflicts with marketing and customers. Modularization starts with understanding where variety is needed and where a company wishes to drive lean product development. When this is understood can a company move forward with effective standardization. A modularization strategy embraces market complexity while still allowing for standardization.

Modular Management can show you how to solve complex problems with the process of modularity, a cross functional product design and manufacturing approach.

Module Drivers form the basis for a systematic evaluation of the technical solutions for a given product. The overall theory of MFD is that increased product modularity improves the total flow of information and materials – from development and purchasing to storage and delivery.

In addition to focusing on rationalising their product handling throughout the operation, many companies want to maintain or improve their ability to satisfy changing customer demands. Therefore companies have to make both the organisation and the product more effective. One way is by structuring the product so it incorporates the demands from the customers, the corporation and the long term strategy. Many researchers are involved in the area of understanding how this should be done. At KTH, Dept. of Production Engineering, and IVF the MFD-method (Modular Function Deployment) was developed some years ago.

The method is one of the first to accommodate the product structure to the manufacturing and the strategies of the company. The method consists of five steps to design a product so it is divided into a number of modules that could be combined/purchased/shared among end product variants. This allows the manufacturing cost to be minimised and the complexity (the number of different parts) to be lowered, yet it still allows flexibility and variety. The method focuses on the corporate strategy regarding core competence and preparation for technical change. Depending on which of these aspects are important for the company and their products, the product may be designed and structured in different ways. The method has been used successfully in some 20 Swedish companies to create a company specific modularisation. Furthermore, the method has also been useful in creating a common understanding of the product and corporate strategies among marketers, designers, manufacturers and so on.

Modularity is about decreasing the number of parts and increasing the product variety available to the customer.

Modular Design Reduces parts and increases end product count

The Modular Function Deployment method consists of five steps:

In the five steps of the methodlogy a number of the techniques explained in this guide are used to good effect.

  1. Clarify customer requirements
    • Quality Function Deployment (QFD) - see guides 6.07 & 6.08
  2. Select technical solutions
    • The Pugh Matrix - see guide 6.25
  3. Generate module concepts
  4. Evaluate concepts
    • Design For Manufacure and Assembly (DFMA), Activity Based Costing (ABC) & Design to Target Cost (DTC) - see guides 6.09, 6.10, 6.11 & 8.03
  5. Improve each module
    • Rank order Clustering (ROC) - see guide 6.19

Modular Function Deployment - The Methodology

Modular Function Deployment is an embodiment of practices advocated by experts on deploying successful MRP II systems.

Further Reading