Today’s customer is highly demanding and the requirements are ever changing and rising, each customer is unique in it’s own way. Competition being cutthroat, a manufacturer whether a big Enterprise or MSME can’t afford to offer a standard minimum product variety to remain in existence. This has been an era of mass customization with no sacrifice on end customer quality or time to market.
There is enormous proliferation in product variants in the evolutionary approach due to push to deliver variants in short notice and shorter lead times. The huge intricacy builds over time if not looked holistically, which not only affects quality of design but quality of manufacturing too, leading to unviable costs. The predicament of most manufacturing companies is how to produce a huge variety with consistent quality with limited capital and reduced intricacy during manufacturing.
Product Architecture is the only answer to handling such intricacies; Modular architecture is a vital strategy which has made companies such as Scania, Volkswagen, Sony, Volvo and a host of others successful in terms of market penetration. There are several manufacturing companies that claims to work with modularization but only a few could extract its full potential.
Trend towards global market place necessitates companies to have a broader product assortment to emphasize unique personality of each segment with the most effective approach towards N=1, which can only be accomplished by modularization. “Modularity” is among the most used words in today’s industry and relatively new to India but probably least properly understood and harnessed. “Modularisation” is confused much with “standardization” and sometimes used interchangeably; it is a biggest mistake one can do.
With global supply chain shift from China, the MSMEs will be thrown with challenge of scale on one side and the variety on other which has to be answered by mass customisation levers. While Modularisation has been glamourized beyond reach to MSMEs, it is time to commoditise it by breaking down elitism of this knowledge created by scholarly.
Although the concept and application of modularity has been a subject of research over several decades and will continue to be. Modularity is not only limited to design, it’s benefits cannot be reaped if it is not extended to production, supply chain and organization as a whole. This call for paradigm shift and an Organizational transformation in conventional way of doing things to globalize and to face the challenge of mass customization at consistent quality.
This becomes even more relevant in Indian contexts where Indian companies are expanding and are in JV & acquisition spree to globalize. Managing global portfolio efficiently & effectively calls for newer ways which current global leaders have learnt over the decades of experiences and failures. Some key players like Daimler still playing cautious to operate efficiently with it’s range of product platforms/brands from Europe, North America to Latin America. Daimler profitability is in lower quartile among all the automotive companies in the world.
With globalization & stiffer competition, the market scenario is getting very dynamic & heterogeneous with time to delivery squeezing and ‘make to order’ getting the niche. This is leading to enormous variant proliferation with lowering response times. It is putting pressure on supply chain, production as well as product development.
Modularization is a relatively complex operation but a very simple at concept, the complication comes from the fact that a very few individuals in industry get only one chance in their career for such a comprehensive product development operation. This means that they mostly lack the previous experience as well as methods and tools to accomplish results especially in Indian industry context.
Interdisciplinary rich experience of ecosystem with interdisciplinary knowledge need to re-discover this traditional tool, methodology of product design & organizational working in proper perspective which is generally overlooked in pure short-sightedness.
Disclaimer – This article is written in full personal capacity and free of charge. This has no conflict of interest with the organisation I work or the current role I perform in the organisation or the information I have access in the organisation. This write-up expresses personal views purely based on information easily and widely available in public domain. Rights to reproduce is protected with self.
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