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Research Papers

Level of Modularity and Different Levels of System Granularity

[+] Author and Article Information
Noemi Chiriac

Department of Mechanical Engineering,  University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 289 Old Westport Road, North Dartmouth, MA 02747

Katja Hölttä-Otto

Department of Mechanical Engineering,  University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 289 Old Westport Road, North Dartmouth, MA 02747Katja.holtta-otto@umassd.edu

Dusan Lysy, Eun Suk Suh

 Xerox Corporation, Webster, NY

J. Mech. Des 133(10), 101007 (Oct 18, 2011) (10 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4005069 History: Received January 14, 2011; Revised July 20, 2011; Published October 18, 2011; Online October 18, 2011

All complex system development projects involve analysis of the system architecture. Thus far it has been assumed that there is some correct system decomposition that can be used in the architectural analysis without consideration of the sensitivity of the results to the chosen level of decomposition. We represent 88 idealized system architectures and a real complex system as a design structure matrix at two different levels of decomposition. We analyze these architectures for their degree of modularity. We find that the degree of modularity can vary for the same system when the system is represented at the two different levels of granularity. For example, the printing system used in the case study is considered slightly integral at a higher level of decomposition and quite modular at a lower level of decomposition. We further find that even though the overall results can be different depending on the level of decomposition, the direction of change toward more modular or more integral can be calculated the same regardless of the level of decomposition. We conclude that the level of decomposition can distort the results of architectural analysis and care must be taken in defining the system decomposition for any analysis.

Copyright © 2011 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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References

Figures

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Figure 1

Partial three level decomposition of a vehicle system (adapted from Ref. [1])

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Figure 2

Idealized modular matrices for the same system at two levels of granularity (left: granularity 1, right: granularity 2)

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Figure 3

Three variants of the ideally modular matrix at first level of granularity in decreasing order of modularity (left to right)

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Figure 4

Ideally integral matrices at two levels of granularity

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Figure 5

Three variants of the ideally integral matrix at the first level of granularity in decreasing degree of integrality (left to right)

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Figure 6

Variant 1 of set 1 of ideally modular matrix at first level of granularity in decreasing order of modularity (left to right)

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Figure 7

MG&G results for the idealized matrices in set 1 (smaller bubble for granularity 1 and larger bubble for granularity 2)

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Figure 8

MG&GInter results for the idealized matrices in set 1 (smaller bubble for granularity 1 and larger bubble for granularity 2)

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Figure 9

MDL results for the idealized matrices in set 1, smaller value for “better” modularity (smaller bubble for granularity 1 and larger bubble for granularity 2)

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Figure 10

Results of all three metrics on the four sets of idealized matrices where the matrix size and number of modules are varied

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Figure 11

DocuColor™ 250 (Xerox Corporation)

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Figure 12

Partial decomposition of a printing system. Three levels of granularity shown.

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Figure 13

Variant of the first level of decomposition where the connection between the trays and xerographics has been removed from the two shaded cells

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Figure 14

Second level variant DSM for the printing system

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Figure 15

MG&G , MG&GInter , and MDL results for the Xerox printing system (smaller bubble for granularity 1 and larger bubble for granularity 2)

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