Integrated Approach to Product and Process Design Based on Life Cycle Engineering

Integrated Approach to Product and Process Design Based on Life Cycle Engineering

Paulo Peças (Instituto Superior Técnico, Portugal), Elsa Henriques (Instituto Superior Técnico, Portugal) and Inês Ribeiro (Instituto Superior Técnico, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-617-9.ch021
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An integrated approach to product and process design and development based on Life Cycle Engineering principles is proposed. The aim is to make available a structured framework to drive the design team in their discussions and analysis towards the creation of purposeful design concepts and process alternatives and in their global evaluations towards informed decisions on a life cycle perspective. A case study is presented based on a cloths peg already in the market, which is intended to be redesigned in order to reduce its cost and increase its attractiveness. The simplicity of the product allows giving emphasis to the models and its methods. Considering several design and process alternatives, it is revealed how the proposed approach is applied and the type of conclusions and findings of such type of methodology.
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Product innovation through continuous improvement of existent products and processes is a key factor for companies to sustain competitiveness in nowadays markets. To deal with this challenge marketing, design and manufacturing areas should be combined, bringing together a multidisciplinary team with different expertises and perspectives (Ulrich, 2003). Product innovation is achieved by implementing the product development as a process, starting to capture information from the exterior, identifying the customer’s needs, and following the best way to achieve products with more value. Value can be perceived as a ratio between the customer needs and the product cost. Pursuing high Value means to conceive products with the functions that customers are willing to pay at the lowest cost. Value Analysis is an organized and creative approach to efficiently identify unnecessary costs that don’t add value to the perceived quality characteristics. When applied to products, this approach assists in the methodical utilization of better approaches, alternative materials, newer processes, and abilities of specialized suppliers. It focuses engineering, manufacturing, and purchasing attention on one objective-equivalent performance for lower production cost, providing step-by-step procedures for its accomplishment in an efficient and assertive manner (Miles, 1989).

Although Value Analysis is an effective tool in product development, nowadays products need address not only the production costs, but also all the costs occurred throughout their entire life cycle (Life Cycle Cost - LCC). Moreover, the LCC approaches by themselves, without additional assessments, are not sufficient to provide drivers and indicators for a sustainable practice (Rebitzer, 2003). It is advised to evaluate the product on an environmental basis following also a life cycle approach, namely involving Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methods. The main reason for including a life cycle perspective since the early stages of product development is that decisions taken at product design stage largely influence the product’s costs and environmental impacts for its entire life (Kurk, 2008). Therefore, to design better products for their entire life Design-for-X (DfX) strategies, supported by the corresponding DfX tools, have been increasingly and successfully applied. These strategies drive the design team in the creation of products and services that achieve a specific target or that maximize the performance in a wide range of engineering fields (cost, environment, assembly, etc.). Despite the wide spectrum of design accomplishments, the DfX strategies restrict the analysis to trade off among several specific alternatives in each engineering field. In fact, the general objective of design for cost is to minimize the production cost; design for assembly aims the definition of the product’s features to minimize the effort of the assembly tasks; and design for environment targets a lower environmental impact focusing essentially on product material issues. The integration of the decisions considering multiple design objectives and perspectives is difficult and sometimes impossible. The addition most individual DfX strategies are focused on a product life window and do not tackle conveniently the overall impact of a design decision. The consideration of the all life cycle stages of a product in the early design phase allows a more complete perception of the product’s importance and differentiation in the market and in the society. This way of design and develop a product can be called as Design for the Life Cycle. To differentiate it from the regular DfX strategies, several authors prefer the denomination: Life Cycle Engineering (LCE), which is defined as a decision-making methodology that considers technical performance, environmental, and cost dimensions throughout the duration of a product, guiding design engineers towards informed decisions (Wanyama, 2003; Betz, 1998).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Injection Moulding: A manufacturing process for producing parts from both thermoplastic and thermosetting polymeric materials. Material is fed into a heated barrel, mixed, and forced into a mold cavity where it cools and hardens to the configuration of the mould cavity.

Value Analysis: A systematic method of improving the “value” of goods and services through the examination of functions and costs.

Life Cycle Engineering: A decision-making methodology that considers performance, environmental, and cost dimensions throughout the duration of a product, guiding design engineers towards informed decisions.

Life Cycle Impact Analysis: Technical, quantitative, and/or qualitative methods to characterize and assess the effects of the environmental burdens identified in the inventory of the energy and materials flows. Impact Assessment is presently under development and has yet no fixed methodologies.

Multiple attribute decision-making methods: An approach employed to measure the performance of a finite number of alternatives, involving a decision matrix and a decision-making method.

Life Cycle Assessment: A structured process to evaluate the environmental burdens associated with a product, process or activity by identifying and quantifying energy, used materials and wastes released to the environment, to assess their impact on the environment, and to evaluate opportunities and implement initiatives aiming environmental improvements. The assessment includes the entire life cycle of the product, process or activity, encompassing raw materials extracting and processing; manufacturing, transportation and distribution; use, reuse and maintenance; recycling and final disposal.

Life Cycle Cost: All the costs associated with a product throughout the product’s life.

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