Modularity has many advantages but few methods exist to partition a product into modules, and no knowledge on which method to use and when. This study compares the heuristic method, the design structure matrix, and modular function deployment. The methods are applied on four commercial products. The disturbing result is that, given the same inputs, all methods partition the products differently. Some consider functionality and interface simplicity whereas others focus on strategic factors. A method developed for single products is poorly suited to modularizing product families. The methods find almost no common module boundaries that would be ideal regardless of the method used. This result is not due to poor application of the methods: the repeatability of each method was analyzed. It varied from 68% to nearly perfect. Modular function deployment was the least repeatable whereas the computerized design structure matrix the most repeatable. The heuristic approach fell in between.

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