Modular Design and Technological Innovation
The Case of the Hard Disk Drives
The hard disk drive industry has been under great cost pressures. Manufacturing has achieved very high levels of efficiencies and there is hardly any room for reducing costs any further by improving manufacturing. An area worth exploring is the design of the hard drives to further reduce the costs. Modular design helps in developing designs that will be amenable to cost reductions by identifying those components that could be designed independently of the rest of the product. In this paper we describe how modular design can accommodate technological innovations. We then relate it to the hard drive industry, and examine how hard disk drives have incorporated the technological innovations. We describe a model to determine a component’s and product’s modularity in a quantitative way. The index developed can then be used to allocate design resources in an efficient way.