Effect of Modularization on The Structure of An Industry (Essay Sample)
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Digital Engineering Management
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Effect of Modularization on The Structure of An Industry
There has been increased industrialization in the construction industry driven by a shift towards off-site construction and increased interest in mass customization. For this industrial shift to take place, the presence of two capabilities is required (Marchesi et al., 2013). First, the industry needs to obtain new manufacturing and automation capabilities. Second, the industry is required to identify products systems that are effective, flexible, efficient, and adaptable to the rapidly changing requirement conditions levied by the customer, technological advancements, and business considerations (Höök, 2006). To respond to such challenges, the construction industry is now embracing modularization strategies (Borjesson and Hölttä-Otto, 2014). Modularization is defined as one of the construction techniques applicable for difficulties in a skilled labor deployment at the site or remote regions and substantially shortcomings in economics for traditional stick-built construction techniques, which need a substantial amount of labor, construction equipment, and supporting substructures and modularization method (Micheli et al., 2019).
There is an increase in modularization in the aerospace industry. The architecture of this industry is extremely important. It has radically changed due to a more modular design and production system. The majority of the airplane manufacturers have shifted their focus to a system-integration function based on the airframe, to which they are adding other airplane components (Pierson, 2011). Some of the airplane parts such as engines, avionics, control systems, and other subsystems can be manufactured separately by technically advanced and specialized subcontractors. The platform strategies in the industry are supported by modular thinking, work sharing, asset-light techniques that have helped in the extension of the product's life over decades. Outsourcing, asset-light strategies and work sharing have influenced the distribution of rewards in this industry (Pierson, 2011). The relative ability of component makers and integrators to extract returns from essential system components that attract price premiums vs. the value placed on system integration determines where profits can be recovered.
Rapid learning and innovation in highly interdependent design elements—for instance, the airplane engine and wing structure—needed close integration of development and manufacture in the early years of the aerospace industry. In the United States, aircraft development began in earnest in the 1910s, but pioneering corporations remained tiny until World War I, when US government funding boosted the burgeoning defense aerospace sector. Design and production remained substantially vertically integrated in the early years of the commercial aerospace industry (Pierson, 2011). The Boeing 247, an early passenger transport aircraft, was debuted in 1933 by the Boeing Company 5, which the company developed from the ground up (after deploying a procedure known as "clean sheet" design) and built it internally from top to bottom. Boeing, like Edison, was not only a fully integrated producer at the time, but it also created a market for its product by operating airlines like United Airlines that used its planes. Although a tightly integrated design approach benefitted the early commercial aircraft industry, there were reasons to isolate important subsystems such as engines and avionics as the industry grew.
In the past, aircraft manufacturers used to rely on tightly coupling the airframe fabrication because it was very challenging for them to manufacture aircraft metal structures that were large in size and shape. In the early 1980s, there were no computer-aided design tools that could help the aircraft manufacturers to lift the airplane parts the size of airplane wings (Jeang, 1996). Because of this, the engineers were responsible for sending blueprints to the manufacturing plants, and the aircraft parts would be manufactured to "print dimensions." The parts would then be joined together during the final assembly process. Nevertheless, the was an increase in the drawing tolerances during the fabrication process, resulting in dimensional inaccuracies. These errors frequently made it impossible for the supplied airplane parts to fit together properly (Pierson, 2011). This forced the system integrators to use different tools such as shims to match any dissimilar airplane components that could not fit together appropriately. This explains the negative side of modularization in the aerospace industry in that the interfaces frequently introduce new failure spots or raise the stress on existing ones.
Modularization enhances the manufacturing system of various products in the aircraft industry. The aircraft fabricators have invested in profitable techniques to connect modularity in airframes as part of the podium and derivatives plan (Qiang and Zhong-qi, 2007). The airplane fuselage contains numerous sections. Due to modularity, some of the aircraft engineers, such as Boeing, managed to formulate a design rule-specific section of the fuselage. For instance, they decided that the interior hydraulic or electrical lines need to be horizontal. As a result, these engineers would only lengthen the lines or piping if they inserted a plug into a design that would stretch the fuselage length (Brusoni and Prencipe, 2011). Therefore, it can be concluded that modularization in the manufacturing of the aircraft can lead to a more horizontal aerospace industry structure, where engineers concentrate on individual components that the aircraft system integrators will use to assemble the final product.
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