A breakdown on the concept of product architecture in mechanical design. What is it and how is it applied in practical mechanical design of systems.
Product architecture in mechanical design refers to the high-level structure and organization of a product's components, subsystems, and their interrelationships.
The arrangement of various functional elements with respect to the physical systems in a product
A good example is the different types of arrangement of the drivetrain in a 2WD car
The rear wheel drivetrain has the engine arrangement in longitudinal direction and the transmission, propeller shaft and differential lined up.
Whereas the Front wheel drive system has all the systems concentrated in the front with the engine transversely located and transmission and axle combined.
The front wheel drive configuration is more compact and is generally lighter in weight as compared to the rear-wheel-drive system.
Setting the product architecture is an important step in systems design as a part of the design process.
Component Arrangement: Product architecture defines how individual components and subsystems are arranged and connected within the overall structure. This includes considerations for the physical layout, integration of parts, and the flow of energy or information between components.
Modularity: Modularity is a key feature of product architecture, allowing the design to be broken down into discrete modules or units. Each module serves a specific function and can be developed, tested, and replaced independently, facilitating ease of maintenance and future upgrades.
Hierarchy and Subsystems: Product architecture establishes a hierarchical structure, dividing the product into subsystems and components based on their functions. This hierarchical approach helps manage complexity and allows for a systematic and organized design.
Interfaces and Interconnections: Clearly defined interfaces between components and subsystems are a crucial aspect of product architecture. Properly designed interfaces ensure compatibility, efficient communication, and ease of assembly and disassembly.
Flexibility :Ability of the product architecture to accommodate changes in size, capacity, or functionality. A well designed product or system with a well thought out product architecture allows for flexibility in changes in designs and modules
Trade-offs and Design Choices: Product architecture involves making trade-offs and design choices that align with the overall design objectives. These decisions impact factors such as performance, cost, and manufacturability.
Integration of Technologies: In products that involve multiple technologies, product architecture addresses how these technologies are integrated to achieve a seamless and coherent system. This may involve interdisciplinary collaboration between mechanical, electrical, and software engineers.
Performance Optimization: Product architecture plays a crucial role in optimizing the overall performance of the product. It ensures that each component is strategically placed and configured to achieve the desired functionality and efficiency.
Aesthetics and User Experience: While primarily concerned with functionality, product architecture may also influence the aesthetics and user experience. A well-organized and visually coherent product architecture can contribute to a positive user perception.
Manufacturability and Assembly: Considerations for manufacturability and assembly are integral to product architecture. An effective architecture minimizes manufacturing complexities, reduces assembly time, and supports efficient production processes.
Regulatory Compliance: Ensure that the product architecture aligns with regulatory requirements and standards relevant to the industry. Compliance may influence the design choices and material selection within the architecture.
Documentation and Communication: Clear documentation of the product architecture is essential for effective communication among design teams, manufacturers, and other stakeholders. Well-documented architecture aids in understanding and collaboration throughout the product development lifecycle.
Modular vs Integral architecture :
If we consider assemblies of physical components are chunks then the difference between modular and integral construction can be understood as