Metrics for assessing coupling density and modularity in complex products and systems

Katja Hölttä-Otto*, Olivier De Weck

*Corresponding author for this work

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

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The central role of modularity is becoming more and more apparent in design of complex products and systems. The question frequently arises how modularity can be measured. To better understand the degree of modularity, we developed two metrics based on a design structure matrix (DSM). The nonzero fraction (NZF) captures the coupling density of interconnections between components, while the singular value modularity index (SMI) measures the degree of modularity. Both metrics yield values between 0 and 1. These metrics are applied to 15 systems and products. We show that real products typically have NZF values between 0.05 and 0.4 and an SMI between 0.05 (very integral) and 0.95 (very modular). A randomly generated DSM population of equal size and density exhibits SMI values that are bounded in the range from 0.25 to 0.45. We conclude that neither a high degree of modularity nor strong integrality occurs accidentally; but are the result of deliberate design. In particular, we show a more integral design will emerge if a functionally-equivalent product is designed to be portable. The main advantage of SMI is that it enables analysis of the degree of modularity of any product or system independent of subjective module choices.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2007 Proceedings of the ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, DETC2007
Pages343-352
Number of pages10
Volume3 PART A
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
Event19th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology and 1st International Conference on Micro and Nano Systems - Las Vegas, United States
Duration: 4 Sep 20077 Sep 2007

Conference

Conference19th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology and 1st International Conference on Micro and Nano Systems
CountryUnited States
CityLas Vegas
Period04/09/200707/09/2007
OtherPresented at 2007 ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, IDETC/CIE2007

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