Capturing the life cycle environmental performance of a company’s manufacturing system
Abstract: This research has developed methods for manufacturing decision makers to measure manufacturing environmental performance and to predict the environmental consequences of alternative manufacturing system configurations. The ideas behind the methods are based on life-cycle thinking from the perspective of an industrial actor, and its decision makers, in the value chain of a product. The ideas are to (1) focus on the parts of the product life cycle that manufacturing decision makers can influence, (2) relate environmental consequences to changes in a manufacturing system, and (3) use a model in which discrete-event simulation (DES) is used to capture the dynamic features of a manufacturing system and life-cycle assessment (LCA) is used to quantify the life cycle environmental consequences. The aim has been to enable manufacturing decision makers to understand the environmental consequences of their actions. To do this, the ideas were further developed using a case study of a bearing unit production line. From the experience gained in that case study and from the knowledge foundation in previous published work we have developed three main methods. The first is a method to relate environmental consequences to a manufacturing actor when performing a life-cycle assessment (LCA), this to increase the relevance of results and the probability to find ways to improve the system. The second method suggests how system boundaries in an LCA can be drawn to specifically measure the environmental performance of an industrial actor’s manufacturing system. This is done by only considering this manufacturing system’s material losses and energy use when calculating its environmental impact. Finally, to capture the dynamic characteristics of a manufacturing system and enable what-if scenarios for changed production configuration, four methodological sub-proposals are suggested to create a DES-LCA model.
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