Incorporating the end-of-life aspect into product development : analysis and a systematic approach

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköpings universitet

Abstract: It is evident that we face a major challenge to overcome the environmental problems associated with our consumption and production systems. The rate at which products flow through our society is steadily increasing and this leads to serious consequences in the form of accelerating depletion of the earth's resources and generation of enormous amounts of waste. This fact is being paid increasing attention and recent developments of legislation together with a growing market awareness have brought incentives to take the end-of-life aspect into account right from the product development stage. There is thus an industrial need to enhance knowledge on how cost-efficient and environmentally sound treatment of discarded product could be facilitated through design measures.This thesis provides an analysis and a systematic approach concerning how the end-of-life aspect could be incorporated during product development. The systematic approach has been created by the author and is mainly based on input from case studies at ABB Motors, Nokia and Ericsson. The approach functions in the thesis as a guiding structure for a comprehensive analysis of how an effective and efficient incorporation could be achieved, leading to products that facilitate cost-efficient recycling. In its normative character the approach aims at applicability in companies that want to improve their products' design from an environmental as well as a market perspective. In applying the approach as a normative tool the company is advised to follow a working structure made up of four steps; 1.) Analysing relevant areas, 2.) Deriving product demands for each area, 3.) Establishing a final list of product demands and 4.) Providing support for product development.The areas seen as relevant to pay attention to in Step 1 are the market demand related to the end-of-life phase, the take-back legislation currently being implemented and the products' end-of-life system. Applying the approach, the company should detern1ine how the product design could be improved leading to increased market potential, compliance with the legislative demands and cost-efficient end-of-life treatment. Effective design targets should then be established through a synthesis of the demands derived from each area. The fourth step of the approach deals with the actual integration of the end-of-life aspect in relevant product development activities. The thesis then analyses how, on the basis of the established product demands, the end-of-life aspects could be efficiently incorporated. For example, it is discussed how end-of-life-related demands could be included in the design specifications and the end-of-life aspect incorporated into the project management systems. 

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