Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Methodology to analyse, design, evaluate and adapt to modular plant architectures

The MPA (Modular Plant Architecture) -Methodology developed in the course of the project comprises a continuous set of procedures, methods and tools for:
- The definition of successful modularisation strategies,

- The design of production modules according to the particular industry’s objectives, their composition to modularised production sites and the derivation of scalable production system architectures bases on these modules,

- The evaluation of alternative modular system solutions considering standardisation, flexibility and adaptability along the extended production system life-cycle,

- Systematic build-up and co-ordination of production systems together with a set of approved strategies for migration towards modular plant architectures of tomorrow.

The MPA-Methodology adapts the concept of modular product platforms known from automobile design to the design of production systems. In order to increase production system flexibility and to extend its lifecycle, the system is decomposed into modules and platforms. While modules encapsulate the system constituents that are object to frequent changes within the system’s lifecycle (i.e. product/ volume-specific constituents), platforms include the rather static parts of the system (i.e. location-specific constituents). This way, future changes of relevant parameters can be answered by exchanging or adapting dedicated modules.

The methodology systematically supports the modular production engineering in four phases: analysis, design, evaluation and operation. At first, relevant change drivers for production systems (e.g. production programme, product variants, location conditions etc.) and company-specific objectives are analysed in order to derive an appropriate modularisation strategy from a given set. Based on that, production modules, platforms and reference architectures are generated. Therefore, change driver impacts and relevant system relations are represented in a dedicated model, the so-called Production Structure Matrix (PSM). Systematic generation of alternative modularisation concepts is supported by a set of procedures adapted from Axiomatic Design (SUH). As well, the methodology provides a solution for the evaluation of these concepts in order to identify an appropriate degree of modularity as well as the right balance between specialisation and flexibility utilising scenario-based evaluation techniques. Finally, the method is complemented by a concept continuous improvement of MPA as well as a guideline that provides an approved migration strategies towards MPA.

The method has successfully proven its practical applicability in multiple real-case production modularisation projects carried out by involved industrial partners in the course of the project. Its application has led to considerable savings in terms of investment, running cost, planning cost and time-to-job one.

Descriptions of procedures, methods, and tools for analysis have been thoroughly documented. Furthermore, a case study to implement MPA results in students and professional’s education has been elaborated.

Reported by

Rheinisch-Westfalischen Technischen Hochschule Aachen
Steinbachstr. 53 B
52074 Aachen
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