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A conceptual framework for sustainable engineering design

: Lindow, K.

Dornfeld, D.A. ; International Academy for Production Engineering -CIRP-, Paris; Univ. of California, Berkeley/Calif.:
Leveraging technology for a sustainable world : Proceedings of the 19th CIRP Conference on Life Cycle Engineering, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, USA, May 23 - 25, 2012; LCE 2012
Berlin: Springer, 2012
ISBN: 978-3-642-29068-8
ISBN: 3-642-29068-X
ISBN: 978-3-642-29069-5
International Conference on Life Cycle Engineering (LCE) <19, 2012, Berkeley/Calif.>
Fraunhofer IPK ()

This paper describes a framework for the implementation of sustainable aspects into engineering design within a company. The focus is on how to qualify and enable the engineer to develop sustainable products. Therefore a top-down and a bottom-up approach are presented. The top-down approach describes how to implement sustainability thinking within a company from a normative to an operative company level. In contrast the bottom-up approach describes how the engineer can get aware of sustainable product design. In both cases so called contextual sustainability behaviors are suggested. Since a product cannot meet all sustainable demands of sustainable value creation at a time the proposed contextual sustainability areas will help to trade-off the over-constraint design solution space. With regard to the respective sustainability dimensions, a product can be developed to fully meet the objectives for only one of the following sustainability context dimensions or for a conscious compromise between them. Furthermore, a case study is presented. The case study demonstrates how the contextual sustainability areas can be applied to a specific product. Additionally, an IT supported approach is introduced. In a first step various remanufacturing scenarios were developed in order to investigate the effect on the product design. For example, materials were replaced by other materials (e.g. steel to plastics) and principle solutions were changed (e.g. roller bearings to friction bearing). This was followed by a current state of the art LCSA. The results were finally provided within a dashboard. That way different design alternatives can be quickly compared with each other and conclusions about the sustainability impact of each design alternative can be drawn respectively to the remanufacturing situation. The method helps to capture the complex relationships between design alternatives and their impacts on the entire product Life Cycle, select sustainable product alternatives and thus create sustainable value effectively and efficiently. Nevertheless, it can be concluded that different views on a product Life Cycle lead to a varying understanding of what a sustainable product actually is. This aspect has a strong link to the difference of the engineering design domain compared to the environmental engineering domain. The contextual sustainability areas provide a way to think out of solely environmental engineering and its assessment of process parameters, e.g. manufacturing. Eventually, the contextual sustainability areas provide a way to bridge the gap between environmental engineering and engineering design thus it combines the LCSA approach for sustainability assessment with a strategic decision for engineering design. Based on that decision, conclusions for the decision-making on design properties and characteristics can be drawn. It can be concluded, that improved supporting tools and methods have to be developed in order to better qualify and enable the engineer to develop sustainable products. Hence, future research activities have to focus on the development of assistance systems integrated into the working environment of the engineer in order to achieve products that are economically more successful, environmentally more viable and socially more responsible. Eventually, the development of only sophisticated tools in academia is not enough against the background of industrial needs. A systematic approach on how to implement and run supporting tools within the design process has to be established. The major industrial needs do not have to be neglected. These basic needs are: Easy to implement within the design process, Easy to lean and understand by the engineers, Delivering results as accurate as possible, Reducing the amount of required information and Reducing the resources for evaluation and assessment.