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Environmental Product Lifecycle Management for building competitive machine tools

Final Report Summary - PROLIMA (Environmental Product Lifecycle Management for building competitive machine tools)

The PROLIMA project offered a machine tool sustainability indicator and a software tool to support the design of sustainable products. Moreover, the software tool can also be used by commercial people in the bidding process, as a commercial tool to assess the sustainability of the machines (evaluating cost, functionality and environmental impact trade-offs).

The machine tool sustainability index provides a method for assessing the sustainability of the machine, an important topic in the sector, increasingly more concerned with factor beyond the initial cost of the machine, such as the life cycle cost and environmental aspects. Furthermore, the software contributes with a machine tool focused design tool, supporting the MTSI with a design support system and integrated LCC and LCA assessment tools.

The software has been developed for the machine tool industry, but it could be applied to other industries characterised by complex product structures. The novelty of the software consists on the combination of several tools used in industry, such as LCC and LCA, and the use of MCDA to provide a design support system considering the three dimensions of sustainability, economic, environmental and social. The architecture of the tools enables the reuse of information, since cost or environmental data are linked to systems, and can be reused in other machines where the systems appear. This fact speeds the analysis process up.

The pilot implementation in the milling machine company confirms the benefits of the software and the MTSI for sustainable design for the machine tool industry. As a future activity, the authors will discuss the suitability to customize it to other industrial sectors which share some of the characteristics of the machine tool industry, such as the complexity of the product and the concern for sustainaibility.

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