Design modularity: identification of benefits and difficulties through a bibliographical analysis in the perspective of automotive assemblers and suppliers
Modularity is a powerful concept applied in various industrial sectors. It assists designers and engineers in the development of products that have potential to comply with different markets. In this sense, this paper aims to analyze the literature on modularity focused on design modularity within the automotive industry. This sector has been increasingly applying the concept of modularity. It is a theoretical study that considered articles published in the past five years (since 2007) with regard to the issue “design modularity in the automotive industry”. Publications were retrieved from peer-reviewed journals at major databases. The search identified 123 articles, from which 45 were suitable for content analysis. Results show that most recent publications cited as major benefits the customization, increased flexibility and product variety, and cost and time vehicle development reduction. The main difficulties are related to increased suppliers dependence (by vehicle assemblers) as well as innovation constraints by suppliers. Other aspects of the publications associated to the research approaches employed in the publications are also presented. Conclusively, benefits of modularity in design have been more exposed in the literature compared to the difficulties in the context of the automotive sector. It is observed that Original Equipment Manufacturers have more benefits than suppliers do, as the latter have more difficulties to adapt their organizational and productive processes towards design modularity. Finally, it is expected that the present work contributes to a broad theoretical framework concerning the benefits and difficulties of design modularity in the auto industry.