CORDIS - Forschungsergebnisse der EU

Integrated software platform for Green ENgineering dESIgn and product sustainability

Final Report Summary - G.EN.ESI (Integrated software platform for Green ENgineering dESIgn and product sustainability)

Executive Summary:
It is well known that early design decisions, during conceptual and embodiment phases, influence 70–80% of the total product cost and environmental impacts. While already affirmed design methods and advanced software tools support designers in their functional, structural, aesthetical choices during the cited design stages, such as Computer Aided X systems (i.e. CAD/CAE/CAS), no easy to use and robust tools exist for the environmental evaluation. Several eco-design procedures and tools have been developed but these ones are not recognized as solutions for a daily usage within the company engineering departments. Even the eco-design software platforms available in literature are not characterized by a proper tools integration. In order to effectively use an eco-design approach, the integration between eco-tools and design tools is the critical aspect of the current solutions.
The project wants to make up for these lacks and develops an eco-design methodology and a related software design platform to help product designers in ecological design choices, without losing sight of cost and typical practicalities of industry.
The main results are the followings:
G.EN.ESI Methodology
It provides a structured workflow that supports the integration of environmental design activities and management within existing design and engineering departments. The methodology consist of a six steps process, each one are explained hereunder.
1. Define your environmental drivers and business objectives
2. Adopt a life cycle thinking approach to determine what your environmental impacts are
3. Align environmental ‘hotspots’ with the wider business context and deine your design criteria
4. Conduct design development activities to meet design criteria
5. Integrate lifecycle checks throughout design development
6. Review design development process and achievements and review long term strategy
G.EN.ESI Software Platform
It represents a fully interoperable set of software tools that supports the user in the integration of environmental considerations and product life cycle integration into product design.
The platform provides a wide range of assessment functionality that focuses on the areas below.
- Environmental Life cycle assessment: Eco-Audit and eVerdEE,
- Life Cycle Costing: EcoAudit
- Specific phases of the product life cycle:
o DfEE: energy efficiency during product use
o 0 km: environmental and cost efficiency during transportation
o LeanDfD: efficiency of product design during disassembly at end-of-life.
The platform also provides support for product improvements:
- Eco-material: consideration of opportunities for alternative materials and processes.
- CBR: Generic and specific guidelines arranged according to life cycle aspects, product structure and customized parameters.
The interoperability between the platform components allows data and results to be exchanged between platform components fully supporting the user in the design process. The XML file allows data to be exchanged between platform tools, and also with compatible CAD and PLM systems.
G.EN.ESI Education Centre

It includes learning, teaching and training materials for implementing eco-design within an industrial context. These varied media resources cover both introductory and advanced topics. The material is available for download directly from the G.EN.ESI website.
It is possible to request a trial of the G.EN.ESI platform or a consultancy service about the G.EN.ESI methodology or eco-design in general, writing a mail to or contacting the G.EN.ESI staff by using the “contact” section of the website. It is sufficient to provide a brief description of the company/research centre, the needs which lead to the use of the G.EN.ESI results, the modules of the G.EN.ESI platform to be evaluated and the purpose of the use. A contact person in G.EN.ESI will inform the involved partners, giving back an answer to the applicant.
Project Context and Objectives:
Nowadays, industrial products, particularly household appliances, are strongly related to environmental issues. Energy consumption in the residential/domestic sector makes up about 20% of world consumption, and furthermore greenhouse gas emissions coming from this sector exceed 35%. Currently, there is an increasing worldwide need for products and services which are qualified in terms of Environmental Sustainability. This need can be satisfied if environmental impact considerations become an integral part of the product design process. Decisions made during the design phase of a product can have a significant effect on the product environmental impact. It is estimated that 80% percent of the environmental impact of a product is determined during the design stage.
During the past years, several eco-design methods and tools have been proposed and developed. Generally these solutions are either too qualitative or too detailed in terms of needed input data. For instance, the tools based on checklist are easy to use, but they do not provide quantitative results which support the designer in choosing the best product solution, from an environmental point of view. On the other side, the existing quantitative tools are mainly based on LCA methodology which requires a huge amount of data (manufacturing processes, suppliers, transportations, end of life strategies, etc.) which are difficult to retrieve during the design phase. For these reasons, these tools are far from a practical day-by-day application within the engineering departments, because they are not well integrated into the design process.
In this context many further improvements can be achieved through a rethinking of the design process, integrating the eco-design activities (and the related tools). The environmental considerations have to be integrated with the other classical design aspects, such as performances and cost. From the environmental point of view, the objective is to stimulate the designers to apply the Life Cycle Design paradigm, in order to consider the entire product life cycle. This idea can favour the creation of a new generation of design tools where environmental considerations become a key factor when decisions on product are taken.
In this context, the main project objectives are:
OBJ 1. Definition of an eco-design methodology based on traditional design tools and new software tools for the improvement of ecological and economical aspects of the household appliances during the entire life cycle. Five different phases occur during a product life cycle: material extraction, manufacturing and assembly processes, transportation, use and final disposal. With the new ecodesign method, all phases can be taken into consideration to improve the product in different ways.
OBJ 2. Development of easy to use software tools for the evaluation of the product environmental and economic sustainability along the whole life cycle.
Eco-Audit: a module of MI: Materials Gateway which enables final life cycle assessment through a simplified life cycle assessment on 3 indicators: Carbon footprint; Energy and Water consumption
eVerdEE: a WEB-based streamlined Life Cycle Assessment tool. It supports the assessment of the environmental performance throughout the whole product life cycle.
0 km: a module of EcoAudit which calculates the environmental and cost efficiency during transportation
EcoMaterial: a module of MI: Materials Gateway which supports designers during selection of alternative materials and processes.
DfEE: calculation module designed for energy using components with a particular emphasis on electric motors. It allows the company to accurately evaluate the use phase of the electric motors in terms of energy consumption, environmental impact and the Total Cost of Ownership
LeanDfD: it enables the evaluation of the product End-of-Life (EoL) management. It evaluates the disassembly times and costs and the recyclability index of an entire product or of a specific component.
CBR: it represents knowledge and “best practices” for eco-design of mechatronic products. It helps the design of mechatronic products by using the acquired company knowledge on similar products and generic eco-design guidelines from literature.
OBJ 3. Integrate the software tool by using the xml schema in order to generate the G.EN.ESI platform, the interoperable platform of software tools. Each tool is able to read the xml file which represents a standard for the platform. The xml file is populated by each software with the aim to exchange data and to define the product model with more and more data calculated by each tool. The databases of each system are integrated with the databases of all the other systems of the platform in order to have a unique source of data. A dedicated csv file template is used to exchange data among these databases. It is written by one system of the platform and distributed to all the other tools for a nightly synchronization.
Development of web portal to integrate a green supply-chain in the eco-design methodology. Suppliers with a certified environmental product (such as EMAS certification) can provide, via web, information about the company and related products. The information is structured following a specific template form in order to be available to the designers which use the G.EN.ESI platform.
Integration of the G.EN.ESI eco-design software tools and platform with the traditional software tools used for industrial design (CAD, PLM). Due to this integration a great added value in design processes has been reached, since the synergic cooperation of these tools completes the design process, taking into account many different aspects such as geometrical features, structural data, material selection, cost aspects and environmental parameters. The integration supports a rapid data exchange between the traditional design tools and the new tools defined for eco-design.
OBJ 4. Design and realize a new cooker hood and an electric motor using the G.EN.ESI platform. The new products were been characterized by a high value of sustainability (ecological and economical aspects) in all phases of life cycle. The design phase of the products and their relative components have been carried out using the G.EN.ESI platform defined and developed in the previous step. The G.EN.ESI platform usability evaluation, as well as its benchmarking with commercial software tools and experimental tests have been carried out to validate the calculated indicators. From the LCA point of view, Eco-Audit and eVerdEE results have been compared with GaBi, while for the end of life point view, LeanDFD has been compared with experimental disassembly tests.
The differences between the simplified (eVerdEE) and the detailed (GaBi) study are in the range of 6-10% for all the impact assessment categories, but Abiotic Depletion elements (ADP), Photochem. Ozone Creation Potential (POCP) and Ozone Layer Depletion Potential (ODP). Deviation between the estimated disassembly times and the actual times are always less than 15%.
Project Results:
G.EN.ESI Methodology
Having identified a need for a more streamlined approach to eco-design within industry, the G.EN.ESI project has developed a methodology and software platform that fully integrates environmental information within existing product design development.
The general Scientific and Technical objective which G.EN.ESI intends to address regards the possibility to supply all the technical departments of companies and related suppliers, working in the field of household appliances, with a tool to evaluate and improve the final product in the direction of eco-sustainability.
In order to achieve this, the first objective was to define an eco-design methodology based on traditional design tools and new tools defined for the improvement of ecological and economical aspects of the household appliances during the entire life cycle.
The G.EN.ESI methodology provides a simple six steps process that supports streamlined eco-design and the integration of new environmental information within an existing design and development processes. The methodology has been developed to support a strategic and systematic approach to eco-design implementation. As such it is aimed at design management teams who are introducing eco-design for the first time or attempting to improve their existing eco-design efforts.
Three main phases constitute the methodology: an initialization phase, the core design phase, and the capitalization phase.
1 - Define the environmental drivers and business objectives
Eco-design is not just about the environment. Environmentally improved products need to make good business sense if they are to succeed. To begin the management team defines the environmental objectives for the project in accordance with the company strategy.
2 - Adopt a life cycle thinking approach to determine what the environmental impacts are
The most significant environmental impacts the products produce may come from unexpected places. Adopting a life cycle perspective and mapping the environmental impacts related to each lifecycle phase (also known as a life cycle assessment or LCA) will enable to identify unexpected impacts. The relative contributions of each life cycle phase will also help to prioritise the efforts, and help to monitor the transfer of impacts from one life cycle phase to another.
3 - Aligning environmental ‘hotspots’ with the wider business context and defining the design criteria.
The environmental hotspots (it means the most critical environmental features of the LCA) identified by life cycle activities, must then be aligned with the wider business context. Aligning environmental issues with the business context will further prioritise the efforts and ensure that the design focus makes good business sense. These can then be translated into the design criteria that will drive environmentally improved product development.
4 - Conduct design development activities to meet design criteria
The practical activities involved in environmental design are much like any other design development process. In the early days the design activities are likely to involve high levels of research and development. The team has to make sure that the project plan accounts for this and that the project goals reflect the resource available in the organisation.
5 - Integrate lifecycle checks throughout design development
Design efforts must be checked throughout the process to ensure environmental improvements are being made. These checks will require a lifecycle focus to ensure that reductions in one lifecycle phase do not generate disproportionate increases elsewhere. To ensure that these checks do not disrupt design efforts, it is important that the lifecycle assessment methodology is quick to do and easily understood.
6 - Review design development process and achievements and review long term strategy
Once the design has been completed the project management team will need to review the development process to understand the environmental achievement that occurred and the outcomes they produced. The review can then be used to identify the company’s current environmental position and adjust the long term
strategic goals accordingly. Stage 6 will then naturally feed into Stage 1 for the next generational product development.
G.EN.ESI eco-design tools
CAD and PLM Gateways
GRANTA MI:MATERIALS Gateway for CAD and PLM is an entry point to the G.EN.ESI platform. Users download and install a small program that is launched from supported CAD/PLM on their computer to communicate with the MI:Materials Gateway software on the GRANTA MI server (hosted within the company, remotely, or by cloud computing). This enables users to connect securely across their corporate network to an approved corporate materials database. Users are able to browse, select from, and apply the material data from that database directly within their CAD/PLM Interface. Relevant property data associated with that material is transferred to the CAD or PLM system, and calculations (for example, of density or environmental impact) can even be performed using data from both systems. Thus GRANTA MI becomes a 'materials module' within your PLM. In turn, these Interfaces use the relevant properties from the database (e.g. to derive mass properties of the assembly) with full pedigree information automatically included for each material assigned.
The designer working in CAD and storing/retrieving information via the PLM system, is a key user of the quick ecological assessment of a product during design. Material and Process can be assigned (Eco Material) using reference or in-house records, transport information, use phase details for the life cycle of the product, and end-of-life estimates for recycling/disposal. In the event that the CAD designer or PLM user does not have the authority to assign materials and processes, managers and procurement are collaborators on this aspect, providing the designer with a list of allowable materials/processes. The analysis and reports that the designer prepares within Eco Audit for different designs and material/process selections can be distributed to the Sustainability Manager, New Product Design Manager and business stakeholders for evaluation and final design decision-making before manufacturing. An XML file can be produced in Eco Audit for further communication with the Web Interface and G.EN.ESI tools.
Web Interface (Web Bom Analyzer)
The G.EN.ESI platform is envisioned to be used by various actors within an enterprise and supply chain in order to assess the environmental impact of products throughout their life cycle. As such, not all actors will be working in the environment of engineering tools (CAD and PLM) such as Sustainability & Product Stewardship Managers and Procurement. For this reason, a Web Interface presents the opportunity for any persons within an enterprise to enter product life-cycle information and generate an XML compatible with the G.EN.ESI tools for further product analysis.
Information from suppliers for bought-in parts is pivotal to completing a life cycle analysis for a product. As environmental regulations become increasingly stricter with an emphasis on transparency and disclosure, the declaration of environmental information throughout the tiers of a manufacturer’s supply chain becomes more critical. The Web Interface extends to become a tool to facilitate the inclusion of supplier engineering and environmental information, which would not typically be provided in a CAD file. The information from a supplier is seamlessly integrated into the manufacturer’s central database system for inclusion as traceable information for environmental product analysis and reporting. The information is subsequently carried to other tools in the G.EN.ESI platform by the Engineering Bill of Materials (EBOM) for further analysis. The main software functionality facilitating the Eco Design experience in the Web Interface are as follows:
- Editable hierarchy of the components in the EBOM
- Selections for Material, Process and End-of-Life phases (integration with Eco Material)
- PDF reporting capabilities
- Export capability of the EBOM to the Corporate Database in XML format
- Data entry tabs for Transport, Use and Product Information
- File management actions and preferences (e.g. units conversion)
Eco Audit with 0km and SLCC
EcoAudit is integrated within CAD and PLM engineering tools in order to analyze the environmental performance of material and process assignments directly from the Bill of Materials (BoM) alongside technical and cost performance. Eco Audit also has a web interface (MI:BoM Analyzer) which does not require a CAD file for information entry, but can read an XML file from CAD or PLM. The materials and
processes may be assigned from Granta’s reference databases or from the users’ created records. End-of-life scenarios for materials are included in the materials reference database, or the user can enter end-of-life information manually along with transport and use phase attributes. The data, simplified-LCA analysis and reporting structure is equipped with CO2, energy, water, waste, NOx and SOx attributes. Results of the tool establish the eco-design parameters in the whole life cycle and help the user reduce environmental impacts by demonstrating changes in attributes between design iterations.
Eco Material
The selection of materials is pivotal to the success of any design, and the importance of the Material phase (meaning extraction and forming) on the product environmental life cycle is typically the highest for static products, and second only to the Use phase of energy/fuel consuming products. In addition, the selection of materials can influence the environmental impact of every life cycle phase. The Eco Material tool represents the capability to select a material and manufacturing process from an authoritative materials information database on the basis of ecological, technical and cost data within design objectives and constraints. Specifically, Eco Material is comprised of an interface for selection/substitution and analysis, and a materials/process database which is defined by GRANTA MI, materials information database. The database may host enterprise proprietary information and/or reference information (e.g. MaterialUniverse, as demonstrated in the G.EN.ESI project). Supporting the materials database is the underlying Materials Information Management system GRANTA MI. The Eco-Material tool has consistent functionality across all of the G.EN.ESI platform entry-points including CAD, PLM and the Web Interface, and provides materials and process information to other tools in the G.EN.ESI platform via the Eco Audit XML since it is integrated with this tool.
DfEE is a software tool dedicated to the analysis of the use phase of products. In particular this tool is oriented to all those components which are responsible of the energy consumption in products (e.g. electric motors, lamps, etc.). The main objective of the DfEE tool is the accurate estimation of the energy consumption of products during the use phase, considering the use profile of the product. Also the CO2 footprint and the cost related to the use phase are calculated by the DfEE tool.
The main outputs of the DfEE tool are the product total energy consumption, the CO2 footprint and cost of the use phase.
The DfEE user has to specify the use profile (working points vs duration) for the entire component lifecycle. The user can choose to specify the lifecycle use profile, or the annual use profile with the lifetime in years, or even the daily use profile with the days per year and the lifetime in years. The energy consumption (use phase) of each energy using component is calculated on the basis of the component parameters, the efficiency curves and the use profile (duration of each working point in the lifecycle). The CO2 footprint (use phase) is calculated on the basis of the total Energy consumption and of the unitary environmental impact of the chosen country. The cost (use phase) is calculated on the basis of the total energy consumption and the unitary energy cost of the chosen country.
Lean DFD
LeanDfD is a software tool dedicated to the analysis of the Disassembly and End of Life phases of products, in order to understand their disassemblability and their attitude to have a closed-loop lifecycle. The main objective of the LeanDfD tool is the possibility to understand the economic and environmental consequences related to the product disassemblability and the recyclability rate with the aim to provide to the user useful suggestions to improve the product EoL performances.
The LeanDfD tool has two main modules: the Disassembly module, which carries out the estimation of the disassembly time and cost for specific “Target” components/subassemblies, and the EoL module, which allows to calculate the EoL performances for the analyzed product, in terms of material properties and recyclability rate.
Regarding the Disassembly module, the user has to identify the components/subassemblies for which he wants to perform the disassemblability analysis, has to specify their mutual relationships through the definition of the “Precedence” (components that, step by step, are free and can be disassembled), and has to specify the Liaison Types and the relative properties that characterizes the specific connections among the components/subassemblies. The feasible disassembly sequences, the disassembly time and cost are
calculated on the basis of precedence, liaisons and properties defined by the user and considering unitary standard disassembly times and costs.
Regarding the EoL module, the LeanDfD tool is able to automatically retrieve some relevant properties relative to the EoL (hazardous, incinerable, and biodegradable) for all the materials used in the analyzed product, and if there are incompatibilities between plastic polymers. In addition, the EoL module allows to calculate the recyclability rate for the entire product and for each component, on the basis of material properties and product architecture, and finally it also allows under standing the most important EoL characteristics for the critical components (electric motors, lamps, capacitors, electronic boards, etc.).
CBR is a tool which represents the knowledge and the “best practices” for mechatronic products. It helps the designer in the design process of mechatronic products through the acquired company knowledge on these products and eco-design guidelines. This tool has the aim of supporting the designer in the improvement phase, taking into account the ecodesign guidelines and company knowledge beside the standard design criteria.
The CBR tool is composed by two main modules: the Browse module, which allows browsing the eco-design guidelines database, and the Product structure visualization module, which allows to associate eco-design guidelines to specific components of the product under analysis.
The user can assign the family of the product under investigation and a standard component to all the desired components in order to filter the eco-design guidelines. In addition, the user can further filter the eco-design guidelines specifying the lifecycle phase of interest or/and the objective to reach. The user can also browse for past projects realized with the use of the CBR tool, in order to retrieve the eco-design choices applied or consulted in previous cases.
eVerdEE is a web-based tool for streamlined Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), available for free under subscription. It allows the analysis of the environmental performance of products and services from cradle to grave (from materials extraction to product end of life). Its main feature is the adaptation of ISO 14040 requirements to offer easy-to-use functions with solid scientific bases. The tool is supported by a database which stores environmental indicators and data quality information on materials, components and processes.
Main eVerdEE functionalities that are relevant for the G.EN.ESI platform are listed below:
- Import of an ‘extended Bill of Materials (BOM)’ produced by any of the tool included in the G.EN.ESI platform, containing the details of components, materials, manufacturing processes, final product transport and the detailed energy use profile of the energy using components included in the product.
- Availability of an input form for the definition of the LCA goal and scope, supported by a Methodological tutorial;
- Simplified data input (less time and mistakes) suitable also for non-expert users.
- Documentation of the data quality of the inventory (information on the DB processes/materials and user’s qualitative judgment);
- Calculation of the impact assessment results in relation to ten impact categories, hazardous and not hazardous waste production indicators, other emissions related to toxicity.
- Visualization of the results with three levels of detail (from total results to contribution of each inventory item);
- Production of reports of inventory and impact assessment results;
- Easy comparison of the environmental impacts of two different options by using a target plot (e.g. the user can compare the re-designed version of a product with the previous one or a competitor’s product with one of its own company)
Supplier Web Portal
As the environmental performance of a product is the amalgamation of its environmental impact through all the stages of its lifecycle, from the extraction of raw materials to its end of life, it is dependent on the totality of the supply chain in both upstream and downstream directions throughout its lifecycle.
As previously noted, the BoMAnalyzer represents the capability to work with BOMs outside of the CAD and PLM environments, and also the opportunity to add bought-in components and their life cycle information,
which was not previously possible in the CAD environment without the supplier providing a compatible CAD file.
The Excel-based importer to Granta:MI is a proof-of-concept that allows G.EN.ESI users to explore the space of shared information between supplier and buyer. Supplier Portals have gained interest in large, multi-tiered supply chains such as for automotive sector where the expectations and contractual obligations of suppliers is clearly defined.
G.EN.ESI Platform
The G.EN.ESI platform is envisioned to be used by various actors within an enterprise and supply chain in order to assess the environmental impact of products throughout their life cycle. The majority of environmental and economic impacts for a product are embedded during the early design phase where information to assess the impact is least available. Whereas a full life cycle analysis requires specialist knowledge and relies on primary data that can only be captured after the product is manufactured, the G.EN.ESI platform has adopted a Simplified Life Cycle Analysis (SLCA) approach which has a track record of dramatically reducing time and cost of environmental product analysis, and can be applied in the native environment of designers and engineers (e.g. CAD, PLM) for early design decision-making. The key to success of SLCA is the availability of trusted and traceable environmental data and the ease of interpretation of results (e.g. indication of the life cycle phase with the highest environmental impact, focus on typical high impact indicators for the product type). SLCA is strictly an accounting methodology which highlights the components and their life-cycle phases of greatest environmental impact. Starting from the results of an SLCA it’s up to the designer, the environmental manager or the product manager to identify which changes could be introduced in the life cycle of the product with the objective of reducing the environmental impacts and to verify that the objective has been achieved without introducing shift of burdens.
The G.EN.ESI tools derived during the project extend the capability of SLCA by analysing specific life cycle aspects of mechatronic products for materials and process selection/substitution (Eco-Material), energy efficiency in the Use phase (Lean Design for Energy Efficiency, DfEE), and disassembly at the End-of-Life phase (Design for Disassembly, LeanDfD). Eco-Material enables the selection of materials and processes on the basis of technical, environmental and cost performance. The DfEE and LeanDfD tools report recommendations during the design process for enhanced mechanical-electrical performance and spatial/geometrical features for improved disassembly time, respectively. By narrowing the number of common indicators required for reporting to the two most impactful for the field of mechatronic, carbon foot print and energy consumption, the specialized tools derived in the project enhance the Materials & Processes, Use and End-of-Life (EoL) phases of an SLCA report. eVerdEE is an SLCA tool that allows a more detailed analysis with more environmental indicators. The tools are made interoperable by their ability to pass Bill of Materials (BoM) information and tool analysis results by a common XML file generated by Eco Audit. The G.EN.ESI software platform thus becomes an ‘enhanced SLCA’, accessible from a variety of environments (CAD, PLM, Web) and actors in the design process. The Case Based Reasoning (CBR) tool helps designers during the product improvement phase with recommendations for the application of generic eco-design guidelines in order to lower life-cycle environmental impact.
Demonstration and Validation activities
Cooker hood case study
The objective of this case is the in-depth experimentation of the G.EN.ESI platform tools in the context of a cooker hood re-design project. In particular, the tools have been used first of all to understand the product criticalities and successively to find the best solutions in order to design and realize an improved cooker hood prototype. This latter is characterized by some differences that lead to lower environmental impacts of the product during the different life-cycle phases.
As previously stated, the product, object of this study, is a domestic cooker hood. We are referring to a particular model, named Stilux, which belongs to the “T-shape” Family, generally placed on the wall, having both ventilation, and filtration functions.
The product improvements achieved are listed below:
- Reduction of the environmental impacts in all the indicators considered (about 50% for Climate Change, Consumption of mineral resources and Consumption of renewable and non-renewable energy)
- Reduction of more than 55% of the energy consumption during the use phase
- Improvement of 7 points for the total recyclability rate, from about 70% to about 77%
- Reduction of the disassembly time for the blower (-18%), the transformer (-27%) and the electric motor (-18%)
- Reduction of number of electronic board to manually disassemble at the end of life, from 4 to only
- Reduction of more than 30% of the total life cycle cost
Thanks to the use of the G.EN.ESI platform tools a cooker hood has been improved obtaining at the end a new prototype with the same functional characteristics, but with a better environmental profile. This case study confirmed the usefulness of the platform to support the product improvement. Furthermore, the usability evaluation (see the results in the dedicated section) confirmed the applicability of the platform within an industrial environment.
Electric motor case study
The objective of this case study is the in-depth experimentation of the G.EN.ESI platform tools in the context of an electric motor. The G.EN.ESI consortium aims to demonstrate that the G.EN.ESI platform can be applied not only for products such as household appliances, but also for very particular products like the electric motors.
The new prototype engineered by using the G.EN.ESI platform has determined an enlargement of the stator stack, the windings and the rotor stack to increase the efficiency of the motor. This is reflected in the use phase that shows a lower energy consumptions which leads to a lower environmental impact. The use phase constitutes a relevant phase in the electric motor life cycle as it represents the most impacting phase.
On the other hand the use of larger mass implies the use of more material which obviously leads to an higher impact in the material and manufacturing phase. In addition, although the impact from the manufacturing phase presents an higher result, the use phase is still the predominant one therefore only changes that influence this phase, actually influence the whole life cycle.
The validation of the results produced by the G.EN.ESI platform has included:
- The validation of the two tools Eco Audit and eVerdEE, which were used at different stages of the design process to perform simplified analyses of the potential environmental impacts of the product through its life cycle. The following criteria were defined for the validation:
o eVerdEE and Eco Audit rank the importance of each life cycle phase (i.e. pre-manufacturing, manufacturing, distribution, use) in the same order as the detailed LCA (DLCA) study does;
o eVerdEE and Eco Audit identify the same three most critical elements in the life cycle of the product and in the same order as the DLCA study does.
- The validation of LeanDfD has been done to evaluate the uncertainty of the disassembly times calculated by the tool.
Eco Audit and eVerdEE are able to provide the correct identification of the most critical phases in the life cycle of a product and of the most critical elements/processes during the life cycle of the product. The differences that have been observed are mainly due to the different sources of data used in the DLCA, eVerdEE and Eco Audit. This aspect of the comparability of LCA studies is well known among LCA practitioners.
The validation of the LeanDfD tool is based on the comparison between the disassembly time estimated by the tool, after the configuration of the disassembly model, and the experimental values measured during real product disassembly. The percentage errors in the estimation are 15% at maximum, except for the electric motor disassembly where the error is higher. Considering lamps the error is very low (less than 5%). The validation has highlighted that LeanDfD is suitable to identify the most critical components and liaisons from a disassembly point of view. This is very useful in particular during the design phase, in order to optimize the product architecture and the liaisons between components.
Usability testing
The Nielsen Heuristic rules have been chosen for the evaluation of G.EN.ESI tools usability. Nielsen’s heuristic rules try to evaluate the usability of the software, considering ten different abstract features which are: Compatibility, Consistency and Standards, Error Prevention & Correction, Explicitness, Flexibility &
Control, Functionality, Informative Feedback, Language and Content, Navigation, Privacy, User Guidance & Support and Visual Clarity Description.
From this heuristic approach, we formulated specific questions for the G.EN.ESI tools users, in order to transfer qualitative information into quantitative ones. This usability rank lies between 3 and 9 when 3 represents an insufficient satisfaction of the user and 9 an excellent satisfaction of the user regarding usability.
The G.EN.ESI software tools that have been evaluated are the following: MI Materials Gateway, CBR, DfEE, LeanDfD, Web BOM Analyzer and EverdeEE. A set of questions has also been developed for the reliability and usability evaluation of the integration of all tools within company.
All usability ranks are greater than 8 and close to 9 which indicates a good or even excellent satisfaction of testers regarding user friendliness aspects and usability of the tools tested and their integration within company. However, for some testers and some specific usability metrics, the values of the usability rank are under 7. Specific issues have notably been identified regarding the completeness and access of the tools databases and also regarding aesthetic aspects of the interfaces.
Training activities
The G.EN.ESI Training Activities have been developed to support the implementation of the G.EN.ESI outcomes. The suite of training materials developed provides a comprehensive introduction to eco-design and the G.EN.ESI methodology, platform and tools, which are easily accessible for all users.
Within industry the two main groups of people defined were managers and designers/engineers. The training was then developed in two parts: an introductory section for both key audience groups and specific training packages for managers and for designers and engineers. The training materials developed have been made available via the project website as presentations with voice-over.
The G.EN.ESI Training Manual is an additional resource for self-training on Improving product design and Tools to support the eco-design activities. It contains details on how the G.EN.ESI methodology, platform and software can support the activities of product redesign for the environment, and can also be used to understand the links between the elements of the G.EN.ESI platform.
The eco-design “serious game” was developed to validate the methodological proposal of G.EN.ESI. The game aims to increase awareness of the importance of collaboration and information sharing for design stakeholders. This is important both within the company (the relationship between the design team and top management and company departments) and outside the company (the relationship with suppliers and clients).
Standardization activities
G.EN.ESI standardization activities consisted first in the realization of a state of the art of relevant standards related to the G.EN.ESI results. The second activity related to standardization was the development of an action plan for harmonization of the G.EN.ESI results with highly relevant standards identified previously. A list of more than 50 relevant standards for G.EN.ESI was developed and linked in a table with every G.EN.ESI results. The software tools of the G.EN.ESI platform have been developed in order to consider the most important standards, in order to limit risks due to a non-harmonization of the results.
Potential Impact:
Potential Impact
The outcomes of the G.EN.ESI project can be summarised as:
- A new approach to integrating eco-design in practice
- A new methodology to support eco-design
- A suite of eco-design tools to support the designer at the early stages of the design process
- An interoperable platform to allow data and information exchange between the tools and with CAD and PLM systems
Through the introduction of these research outputs to a wider community, the G.EN.ESI project has the potential to reach and influence industry, education and the research community.
Impact on industry:
The G.EN.ESI platform and methodology has been developed to support the process of environmentally-friendly product design. The solutions developed are robust, and provide a platform of software tools to:
- Introduce environmental assessment early in the design process in order to make the right decisions as soon as possible during design. The inter-operable capability of the platform makes it possible to have a first life cycle assessment as soon as a first CAD drawing is available. This assessment can then easily be updated and enriched as the product design process continues.
- Support designers in the development of more environmentally efficient solutions, especially for product use phase and end-of-life. Eco-design support is provided by specific tools that can be selected depending on the project environmental targets, team members and stage of the design process. The methodology provides the backbone for en efficient integration of environmental constraints into the design process based on the features provided by the platform.
The G.EN.ESI project outcomes are tailored for complex mechatronic products and they offer a platform for environmentally-sound innovation. The integration of industry expertise on product disassembly and recycling processes throughout the software development process now enables the software users to assess the sustainability of a design at product end-of-life. This specific feature offers particular advantages for companies involved in the development of products that are subject to the regulations of the WEEE directive.
The ability to assess the environmental profile of a product as soon as a CAD or PLM file is available is likely to increase the adoption of eco-design, and to make the platform accessible to all companies using CAD or PLM systems, regardless of size. By providing the information required to make environmentally sound decisions early in the product design process, it is believed that the number of eco-design solutions will increase, and that designers will be encouraged to practice life cycle thinking when making decisions on product design.
The platform and methodology have been implemented within the project industrial partners. Both medium-size companies implemented it into their design process and were able to design new eco-design products. When presenting the platform to a wider audience, all sizes of companies were found to be interested in G.EN.ESI. The mechatronic industry in general can adopt and implement G.EN.ESI software products for their design processes. Consultancies have also shown an interest in the platform as a toolbox to pick from, to support specific clients’ demands regarding environmental improvements.
Impact on education:
G.EN.ESI developments have been supported by the collaborative creation of a training pack that is central to educating future platform users in the concepts of eco-design. The Training materials include the eco-design knowledge series, a set of documents introducing the user to life cycle assessment and eco-design concepts, the G.EN.ESI training manual, covering the methodology and software tools and the eco-design “serious game” (material available within the education centre of the G.EN.ESI website. In addition, a suite of progressive training videos have been created, along with recordings of research presentations, and a video demonstration of the project methodology and platform (G.EN.ESI YouTube channel
In the effort to educate future designers in the challenges of sustainability, the G.EN.ESI methodology and the related platform offers a coherent vision of eco-design implementation in industry. By training student
engineers in the methodology and the use of such eco-design tools, it increases the likelihood of them reusing the platform in their future career.
Impact on research:
With a demonstrator of inter-operability tools, the next step for researchers is to explore how this platform will influence the interactions of actors during design. The platform is an enabler to progress from tool development to design interaction analysis.
The project results made it possible for an increase in information exchange between design tools. Researchers can now explore whether or not this is linked to an increase in interactions between design actors.
Project dissemination:
G.EN.ESI results are available through the following medias:
- LinkedIn:
- Youtube channel:
- Newsletter. Subscription through the contact section of the G.EN.ESI public website
The project was also presented in several aerospace community workshops. To ensure that the project specifications aligned with industrial expectations and standards, GRANTA represented G.EN.ESI at the Aerospace Defence Security and Space (ADS Group) Design for Environment Group.
In terms of research, G.EN.ESI results were presented at the following conferences:
Academic conferences:
- 8 SAM (Society and materials) Conference
- 24° CIRP Design Conference
- International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in
- SDM'2014 International Conference on Sustainable Design and Manufacturing.
- DESIGN’14 Croatia.
- Special Interest Group (SIG) of the Design Society on eco-design:
Mixed conferences: Academia and Industry:
- Industrial Technology
To construct a valid demonstrator of the G.EN.ESI methodology, also French SME (Aubrilam) has been involved during the platform and methodology validation. The results of this experiment can be found in Maud Dufrene doctoral thesis. The company was trained in the use of the methodology and the G.EN.ESI team supported them in their implementation for design. The results of this experimentation was used to illustrate the benefits of the G.EN.ESI methodology from an industrial perspective.
A workshop with the European Committee of Domestic Equipment Manufacturers (CECED) was held in November 2014. CECED, has been dealing with eco-design implementation for many years and were central to obtaining useful feedback on the platform and methodology. Around thirty members of CECED attended the seminar and provided useful feedback on the project developments, which is being considered by the software developers to improve their products. The CECED members felt that the interoperable platform supported compliance with current environmental regulations but also provided new capabilities for the design of products with improved environmental characteristics.
To spread the word about the G.EN.ESI project results, members of the project went to different tradeshows.
Faber promoted their eco-design range at Eurocuccina, the tradeshow for the electro-domestic industry. Faber demonstrated 16 new cooker hood models and concepts. Of particular note was the eMotion concept, a hood made from krion material that is totally recyclable and control free. INPG and ENEA respectively attended Pollutec and Ecomondo, tradeshows for eco-technologies in France and Italy..
A final dissemination event has been held on the 12 of January 2015. A webinar was organised and advertised widely to reach an audience of eco-design experts, researchers and industrialists. The platform proposal was deemed relevant to enhance eco-design implementation for those new to eco-design. New applications were identified, especially by consultancies in the provision of new functionalities for their clients. The events attended have helped to identify the “original” features of the platform. These features are aspects of the platform that are not available in competitors’ solutions and were identified by experts as
having potential to deliver a positive effect on eco-design projects. The two most cited original features were the environmental assessment in CAD based on materials and processes defined, and the focus of LeanDfD and DfEE on the important environmental aspects, the use phase and end-of-life phase of electro-mechanical products.
List of Websites:
Main contacts: