The Power of Modular Systems: A Look at Volkswagen's Success

Learn about the benefits and success of modular systems through the example of Volkswagen's cars. Discover how these systems work and how they can be applied in various industries.

The Power of Modular Systems: A Look at Volkswagen's Success

Modular systems are everywhere in our daily lives, from automobiles and computers to furniture and electrical power distribution systems. These systems are made up of basic components that can be configured in different ways to adapt to various customer needs. One of the best examples of a modular system is the one used by the Volkswagen Group for their cars. This system has proven to be incredibly flexible and has allowed for continuous learning and improvement over time, leading to the success of their third generation modular system. So, what exactly is a modular system? It is a collection of basic components that can be configured in different ways to meet different customer needs.

As time goes on, new modules may be developed to serve new purposes or improve performance. The beauty of modular systems is that optimization and cost reduction can be done within modules without affecting the entire product, as long as it is done well and does not reduce value for customers. Many companies use modularization and configurable product platforms as tools to reduce product complexity and make the customer order process more efficient. Modular design can also be seen in user interface design, with patterns such as responsive grids, tiled window design, and card design. These designs use modules repeatedly to create a flexible layout that can easily adapt to different screen sizes.

The modules act as containers for different types of content and functionality, similar to how inserts can be added to an IKEA wardrobe. From a modular systems perspective, it makes more sense to view the front panel and user interface as a shared product platform rather than separate pieces that need to align with other modular systems. To better understand the architecture of a product and how it relates to a modular system, let's take a closer look at Volkswagen's approach. Some leading companies have taken modular systems to the next level by creating a unified product platform that can be shared across different platforms. For example, if different platforms can share the same high-voltage interface and battery consumption logic, there is no reason why this modular system cannot be shared.

This is especially interesting because it shows that all these platforms are instances of the same high-level modular system. Modularization is often used as a tool to create configurable product platforms, reducing complexity and making the customer order process more efficient. One methodology that can accelerate this process is atomic design, which breaks down designs into smaller, reusable components. When it comes to cost efficiency, Volkswagen reduced the reach of their platform but continued to use it to meet the needs of a wide-ranging market. However, there are also bad examples of modular systems that focus on one aspect of efficiency and ignore others. The beauty of modular design is that it encourages us to approach solutions as interconnected parts rather than isolated solutions.

The main goal of working with modular products is to offer flexibility while reducing complexity. In a previous post, I discussed a schematic model for defining the scope of cost-effective modular systems. With a modular design approach, these modules can be created to be used in the current design as well as future ones.

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