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Assessment of social impacts along the value chain of automation technology components using the LCWE method

: Schlegl, Friederike; Barkmeyer, Mercedes; Kaluza, Alexander; Knüpffer, Eva; Albrecht, Stefan


Schebek, L.:
Progress in life cycle assessment
Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2019 (Sustainable Production, Life Cycle Engineering and Management)
ISBN: 978-3-319-92236-2 (Print)
ISBN: 978-3-319-92237-9 (Online)
Book Article
Fraunhofer IBP ()

Purpose: During the last years, the sustainability of products has gained importance. The established life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology focuses on the evaluation of environmental impacts of products. Academic research extends this approach to social impacts towards establishing a social life cycle assessment (S-LCA). The life cycle working environment (LCWE) method offers one option to include social impacts in LCA. This paper aims at creating a LCWE procedure for company purposes. Automation technology components serve as a case study.
Methods: LCWE helps to assess the social impact on humans along a products life cycle based on statistical data and the possibility to integrate primary data. The methods focus is on working conditions in upstream and manufacturing activities. LCWE is based on the energy and material flows used in LCA study’s. The results of the method are social profiles of single processes or products. The allocation to social profiles is performed through shares of value-added costs within the life cycle processes of a product.
Results and discussion: First, a procedure that enables the integration of the LCWE method into companies is presented. Within the procedure, it is possible to integrate corporate data as well as companies aims. The results of the process assessment are categorized by a traffic light function, so that decision makers within the company will be able to integrate the results into their department and improve the processes they are responsible for.