Infoscience

Thesis

A Methodology for Holistic Lifecycle Approach as Decision Support System for Closed-loop Lifecycle Management

Sustainability of their products and practices provides companies with a competitive set of methods and tools to maintain, improve and expand customer and supplier relationships and to ensure access to strategic markets. Companies pay a lot of attention to produce more sustainable products and contribute to the overall sustainability. Most of the companies manage to use lighter materials or change the material with a recyclable one or try to decrease the energy used for manufacturing. However most of these attempts are related to only one part of the life cycle or one aspect of sustainability. In spite the fact that sustainability is thought to be related with the environmental aspects of the product, it is a broad concept and has economic and social dimensions. This makes the evaluation of sustainability a very complex matter. On top of that, to achieve a certain level of sustainability, it is necessary to take into account the whole life cycle of products (life cycle perspective) from material extraction and manufacturing to use and disposal when a decision has to be made about sustainability performance. In order to evaluate the sustainability performance of the products it is necessary to combine a number of life cycle evaluation methodologies; life cycle assessment (LCA) for environmental aspects, life cycle costing (LCC) for economic aspects, and social life cycle assessment for (S-LCA) for social aspects. Product lifecycle management system help to manage product related information through its life cycle. However, generally the capabilities of PLM systems are limited to the operations of one company or in some cases it might have been extended to their 1st degree partners. Additionally, the information flow of the product is often restricted to the beginning of life (BOL) phase. Closed-Loop Lifecycle Management is a more recent concept which goes beyond the limits of traditional PLM systems and is targeting seamless information flow across all phases of the life cycle. Closed-loop PLM systems use product embedded identification devices (PEIDs) and enables to gather and distribute life cycle information through the life cycle of a product more precisely. This information may further be used for evaluation of the products sustainability performance. The methods and tools for sustainability assessment are constrained with the availability of data. Closed-loop PLM systems are capable of gathering life cycle data and processing it in order to make informed decisions towards sustainability. A Closed-Loop Lifecycle Management system containing a DSS configured with the holistic life cycle approach will be an efficient tool to evaluate and improve the sustainability performance of products. The proposed methodology in this dissertations benefits from the comprehensiveness of the life cycle thinking and integrates the tools for evaluation of all aspects of sustainability. It has been applied to three test cases and validated. Finally, the results of this work have been published in conferences and journal papers.

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