Archive for Klean Kanteen

The Concept of Modularity

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 9, 2010 by Arne

It occurred to me the other day how many manufactured products could be improved if they were wholly and entirely modular in design. What started me thinking was the Klean Kanteen. We have four (4) of them at home for our kids, and we initially bought them because all of they BPA hype about toxic plastic, and but at least as much because all the plastic sippy cups were falling apart and leaking every few months.

Klean Kanteen makes an awesome product. It is clean and tough, looks good, and – here goes – is completely modular. You can disassemble it into give parts to rinse and replace them, and you can order all the parts for replacements. They probably cost 4-5 times as much as the plastic junk. But they last, and they can be fixed (you can order replacement parts). What other kind of day-to-day product works like that ? Virtually none. Everything is disposable these days, and if replacements are available, most people probably don’t know and throw the thing away anyway.

What amazes me is that for all its complexity and software headaches, the modern PC is so modular ! You can buy almost any PC (one reason I can’t stand Macs) and then go out and buy almost any off-the-shelf piece of hardware, plug it in, and it works. I recently pulled a 2002 PC from a dumster, and after spending $16.99 on a 512 MB RAM and $24.99 for a hard disk, and installing free Linux, I had a fully functional computer. Talk about modular and recycling. I think that if industry in general were more modular, we could recycle a lot more and waste a lot less.

How come the car industry isn’t like that, or is it ? After all, what car these days is still exclusively made by the brand who logo the end product bears ?