Simplification strategies for mechatronic products: A methodology proposal

TitleSimplification strategies for mechatronic products: A methodology proposal
Publication TypeArticolo su Rivista peer-reviewed
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsMengarelli, M., Zamagni A., Buttol P., Cortesi Sara, Nanfitò S., and Porta Pier Luigi
JournalMateriaux et Techniques
KeywordsAvailability, Commerce, Design, Domestic appliances, Eco-designs, Ecodesign, Environmental considerations, Environmental design, Environmental impact, environmental management, Environmental performance, International trade, Interoperability, LCA, life cycle, Product design, Product development, Rapid environmental assessments, Simplified LCA, Simplified life cycle assessment, SMEs, Software engineering, Supply chains

The promotion of efficient use of resources is at the core of the Europe 2020 Strategy and its flagship initiative on "A Resource Efficient Europe". Ambitious goals are defined, whose achievement requires actions across different sectors. Mechatronic products play an important role in this framework for three main reasons: (i) the high energy and resource consumption they generate; (ii) the volume of products traded on the international market, since mechatronics cover products ranging from small and large household appliances, to cars, planes, robots and manufacturing machines; (iii) they are replaced before becoming obsolete, making the end of life management challenging. The Ecodesign Directive is supporting the improvement of the environmental performance of this product group by providing measures to intervene in the design process, the phase that determines 80% of the whole environmental impact generated by a product or service. However, designers often struggle with the inclusion of environmental considerations into the design process and further supporting measures are necessary. To address this challenge, the G.EN.ESI research project was launched in 2012, aimed at developing a software engineering platform of different tools that support designers' choices from an environmental point of view. The main goals of the platform are: to exploit the interoperability of the design tools traditionally used in the product development with the environmental assessment ones; to allow for a rapid environmental assessment of design choices, by adopting simplified Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) tools. As far as simplified LCA is concerned, different simplification techniques have been developed and are available in the scientific literature, but a general agreement on which strategy is more robust has not yet been found. However, many agree that the availability of detailed LCA studies for specific applications is important to define simplifying methods for those applications, together with the exchange and availability of relevant data along the supply chain. Building upon these two concepts, this paper presents the approach developed for simplifying LCA within the GENESI platform, with an application to the product "cooker hood". The repeatability of the strategy to other product groups is also discussed, together with the next development steps. © 2015 EDP Sciences.


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