Research studies confirm that embracing sustainability in product design and manufacturing not only yields environmental improvements, but offers key business benefits. There is an increasing pressure to adopt a more sustainable approach to product design and manufacture. Organizations that are actively engaged in sustainable product design and development cite impressive levels of improvement over their poorer performing peers in product innovation, quality, safety and revenue growth alongside anticipated environmental and energy gains. Sustainability in design and manufacturing has a lot to do with “doing better with less,” and embracing a broader view of product development, and examining full lifecycle of the product and the impact that its design, manufacture, performance and disposal can have across not only on business, but on the environment and society, as well. The process of rethinking a product’s design so that it is more durable contains fewer parts and easily packaged and recycled also drives innovation and quality. The goal of sustainable product design (SPD) is to produce products and/or to provide services, which are sustainable and achieve their required functionality, meet customer requirements and are cost effective. In other words, SPD is about producing superior products and/or services that fulfil traditional criteria as well as sustainability requirements. The requirement to develop sustainable product is one of the key challenges of 21st century.

This paper describes a system that identifies sustainability related performance measures for products in terms of:

a) Sustainable product design by robust design.

b) Sustainable design by quality of service.

The first case study is on a laser based measuring instrument which supports the theory of sustainable product by robust design techniques The objective of the robust design study is to find the optimum recommended factor setting for the surface roughness analyser to minimize the variability in the readings. This instrument relies on the spread of the laser light on the work piece to determine surface roughness; therefore, the analyser’s reliability depends primarily on everything involved with the laser and its path. There are a minimum number of parts to achieve this function since the laser can scan over the work piece, substituting functionality in place of additional parts. The use of surface roughness analyser for online measurement of surface finish and continuous online monitoring and control with a feedback provides the robustness in quality and sustainability.

The second case study, which is on elevator quality of service, is considered to support the theory of sustainable design by quality of service. This example shows how the design considerations are influenced and closely linked to the quality of service and maintenance. To support the theory of sustainability by quality of service, this case study examines elevator design and maintenance and recommends a new procedure based on Root Couse Analysis resulting in Elevator Condition Index (ECI). ECI is a new procedure and is applied based on original equipment reliability, projected average life cycle of key wear components, number of run cycles since maintenance was last performed on each component, cost of emergency repair vs. cost of maintenance vs. likelihood of failure. It supports service based on prognostics rather than routine service cycles.

Sustainable design and manufacturing is possible if we deploy the virtual engineering tools to monitor and service manufacturing machinery so that the sustainable benefits are maintained throughout the product design cycle. The choice of a workplace structure depends on the design of the parts and lot sizes to be manufactured as well as market factors, such as the responsiveness to changes. Designers should be aware of the manufacturing consequences of their decisions because minor design changes during the early stages often prevent major problems later. As a part of product performance evaluation, the use of capability index to maintain process quality can lead to beneficial results.

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