Innovation of product modularity development through the integration of a formal Industrial Design framework
thesisposted on 09.09.2015 by Muhammad Firdaus Abong Abdullah
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Growing numbers of global manufacturers are not only adopting the modularity concept, but integrating design methodologies that explicitly focused on achieving a range of competitive advantages through the enhancement of product appearance and utilities designs. The rising interest in industrial design is also an interesting symptom of changes in the approach to new product development, hence, integrating industrial design in modular product design posed a new challenge. In meeting these challenges, a formal Industrial Design framework known as InDFM (Industrial Design Framework for Modular Product Design/Development) was developed to support the innovation of design in modular product development. Within the InDFM, a methodology is developed for modular product design realisation. This research embarked with identifying the appropriate range of product as the focus of the investigation, followed by qualitative surveys on the design and development processes relevant to the selected product. The surveys were conducted in modular product companies within a range of industries related to the product, in the U.K., Belgium and Malaysia. Literatures reviews were also conducted on related domains across a range of application to understand the fundamentals of modularity and industrial design processes that are relevant to the domains. Data findings from these exercises were used to identify InDFM construction components, which were also vital to develop a technical standard for implementation of the InDFM. To evaluate its practicability, the InDFM was retrospectively applied in an existing modular product design process of a selected company. The evaluation focused on process compatibility of industrial design and modular design processes. Validation of the process compatibility emphasised the quality of integration at all stages of the design and development process. In conclusion, industrial design applications in a highly technical process of modular product design provide a design-driven innovation to complement the engineering driven innovation in the process. The combinations were proven to enhance the visual, interactive, and the feasibility contents of a modular product apart from providing a broader perspective to the objective of product modularity. InDFM also provides design practitioners with systematic design methodology to integrate both processes, thus performed as a tool for innovation that facilitate the revision of object identity, break away from the existing design rules and generating new rules. Additionally, as InDFM is a flexible methodology, innovation of modular product design through industrial design is accessible to any product company, small scale or big organisation that would want to acquire an advanced interactive version of the InDFM in the future.