The increasing awareness of sustainable development concept and its economic benefits are making environmentally
proactive companies to consider how they can achieve eco-efficiency improvement through material exchange and by
partnering with academic, governmental and non-governmental agencies. This paper reports the experiences and
achievements of a tripartite partnership initiated by the author with a number of companies in Calgary and a Calgarian
NGO. The network is a form of eco-industrial network that is being developed to benefit the participating companies and
to develop industrial ecology students' skill in eco-industrial network modeling. The paper highlights the initial
difficulties, how they were overcome and a conceptual model developed for assessing the sustainability of the material
exchange loop. The preliminary results obtained revealed that the companies are enthusiastic in taking part if it will help
them achieve waste management cost reduction, improvement in their corporate environmental performance and
corporate goodwill, and protection of their proprietary information. It also reveals that such corporate exposure to
students develop their skills in balancing their academic view with what works in the corporate world.
This paper presents a design concept originally developed to suit the needs of the agro-industrial sector in the developing
economies. It also highlights how this concept fits into other green design paradigms and to the goals of industrial
ecology. The need to design for multi-lifecycles arose from the need for durable, easily maintained agri-processing
machines in these economies. Most of the available machines are typically imported from countries of entirely different
technological, climatic and socio-cultural conditions. Many become unmanageable after only a few years of use because
of lack of technical know-how. Consequently, they become environmental problems and sources of economic drain for
farmers, processors, regional and municipal authorities. There is therefore a need to develop a design concept that
considers all prevalent local techno-economic and socio-cultural conditions, as well as develop design features that
promote multi-lifecycle use of such agri-industrial machinery. This design concept incorporates DfX paradigms such as
design for modularity, cost, assemblability, manufacturability, disassemblability, maintainability, reusability, and
remanufacturability. This concept has been used to design and develop a cassava processing machine. The performance
evaluation of the machine compares with the imported ones. By incorporating all the aforementioned DfXs, this design
concept promotes resource use optimization, pollution prevention and cost minimization which are among the goals of
industrial ecology. It is believed that this design concept can be applied to other areas of need in the industrial and
agricultural sectors, and that using this design concept will go far in complementing various efforts aimed at reducing
total environmental impact of our industrial activities.
Design for Environment (DfE) has been defined as the systematic integration of environmental considerations into product and process design. And it has been discovered that material and space can be saved when several functions are integrated into a single product by taking advantage of common components. In this design and development project, a multipurpose thresher was designed based on an integrated concept of design for modularity, disassembly, demanufacturing and remanufacturing. The machine can be used to thresh various types of farm produce such as rice, sorghum, cowpea and rye by changing the concave and the cylinder (threshing drum). The configuration of the machine enables access to most of the component parts without changing the tools needed for disassembly because the same type of fasteners was used. Furthermore, the functional units (the shelling unit, the separation unit and the grading unit) were assembled into modules such that only the faulty part needs to be replaced if necessary. The design was so simplified that the operator can make the changes for different uses without any difficulty. The machine has been successfully tested with a number of these products and it is scheduled for tests with other produce like corn and peanuts. The modularity of the functional unit will facilitate multi-lifecycle use of machine and/or its component parts. The uniformity of the liaisons and simplification of the configuration will reduce both the disassembly times and maintenance cost. By this integration, the material requirements for four different machines are conserved, environmental emissions that would be associated with the manufacture, transportation and disposal of four machines are eliminated while the capital requirements by farmers for machinery are reduced to about a quarter. Consequently the total lifecycle cost is kept minimum while the eco-efficiency is maximized.
The need for sustainable product end-of-life management technologies is critical in today's globally competitive environment. The ever-increasing environmental consciousness of consumers and strictness in legislative regulations necessitate more prudent product decisions. The ability to make sound decisions on which product end-of-life management technologies to adopt is crucial to achieving sustainability of the product systems. It is essential that effective assessments of these technologies for future investment and applications indicate the total economic, environmental and social impacts of each option as well as the trade-offs between the various product end-of-life management technologies. The tendency in modeling this decision scenario is to base the formulation and the analysis on crisp, deterministic, and precise data. The product end-of-life management decision environment is however characterized by a mix of crisp and linguistically expressed parameters, most of which are uncertain in nature. Furthermore, the decision makers are interested in selecting an option that both satisfies certain minimum requirements and maximize their utility from a set of feasible alternatives. The goal of this study therefore is to develop a simple, efficient procedure that provides the manufacturing and allied industry with the ability to assess and evaluate the sustainability of remanufacturing and related technologies based on lifecycle thinking. This methodology, termed "product lifecycle extension techniques selection (PLETS) model," is a hybrid of fuzzy logic and a number of multi-attribute decision making models. It can be used to determine the remanufacturability of each product. In addition, it can also be employed to compare the economic, environmental and social sustainability of the feasible set of the product end-of-life management technologies being considered. The proposed methodology is illustrated with an example of end-of-life management for a peanut-shelling machine.