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Modular Design Case Study [Design
Posted on October 22, 2015 @ 10:06:00 AM by Paul Meagher

In my backroad travels I came across this device in a field of beef cattle. It was recently purchased by a young entrepreneurial farmer that I've chatted with before.

I did a bit of research on how the device works and you can watch the video below to see for yourself how it can be used to safely and efficiently immobilize an animal so you can deliver medications, tag it, transport it, inspect it and so on.

The young farmer also has over 100 sheep which the device can probably also be used for. If it can handle a small beef calf it should be able to handle sheep? The more types of animals the corral system can handle the more worthwhile it will be to buy. Sheep can graze after beef cattle so eventually he can move the cattle out of this pasture and move the sheep in and use the corral to tag them, deworm them, inspect them and so on. Must be a pain in the ass to do these jobs on a large number of animals if you don't have a good corral system.

From an entrepreneurial perspective, what is interesting about the Lakeland Group's product line is how they have logically separated out various functions of their corral system into different modules that you can buy separately. The head immobilizer is probably an option you can add if you want more or less ability to immobilize the animal. In the picture above (to the left), you can see several beef cattle huddled into what is called a "crowding tub". The crowding tub is probably optional but something you might want to add if you wanted to make the job of corralling the cattle into the immobilizer easier. Likewise there are gates, feeding tubs, watering tubs and transport cages that are additional modular components that you might want to add to your corral system over time.

Apple Computer isn't the only company that figured out how to own the whole customer experience. Corral product companies and fencing companies have similar strategies.

One key to making this modular design strategy work is probably to have at least one component of your modular design that is critical and which you might claim to do a better job of than other companies. Other companies sell similar quality gates, crowding tubs, and feeding tubs but perhaps they don't have an immobilizer that is as well designed as the Lakeland fellows have. Because the immobilizer is one of the main features of your whole corral system then if you buy this particular piece of equipment you are likely to want to buy their add on products because they all go together better than if you try to mix and match components using different corral product suppliers.

This is not a pitch for Lakeland Group products. It is meant to be a brief case study on what modular design looks like and how you might approach marketing and selling a modular product line. You can judge for yourself whether selling a modular product is easier and more profitable than selling only a packaged corral system. So a moral might be to consider whether you should be selling your product as a fully packaged standalone product or whether you would be better off breaking things down into a modular design that might allow people to buy components of the overall system over time? What are the critical components that you need to do better at than the competition and what are the commodity components that you just have to match the competition on? Perhaps this case study will inspire some thinking about how a modular design strategy might work for your startup or business.

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