Modular or Not?

The approaches to designing machines and the methods for building them are naturally as different as the machines themselves. So, when I researched and wrote Control Design's October cover story on modular machines, "Easier Pieces," I found many different levels of understanding about modular machine building. For example, some OEMs build more Lego-like machines, so they can work better within production lines. However, others don't need to plug-and-play multiple equipment because they only run one standalone machine in a small shop. Meanwhile, some builders are adding modular capabilities because their users demand them, while other aren't going modular apparently because their users aren't as demanding or perhaps because a few builders are ignoring their users. It can be hard to tell the difference between not having to innovate and not wanting to innovate or just being asleep. What do you think?