The result of the TOPROCO project is a system and design procedure that can be evaluated by industry and demonstrate a potential for future commercial exploitation as a separate module to be integrated in the design process. The TOPROCO system is aimed at the functional parts list design stage. The product description used in TOPROCO is the so-called recycling graph, a graph which connects the components with physical relations (the fasteners) and the logical relations (between the fasteners) with respect to dismantling. These logical or blocking relations between the fasteners indicate a fastener has to be dismantled before a second one can be reached or disassembled.
Once the product is described, the different recycling alternatives can be assessed. These recycling alternatives are documented in TOPROCO's virtual recycling company. For each of the recycling activities a cost formula has been generated based on the Activity Based Costing paradigm.
Guidelines give the designer a set of rules for design for recycling. The design support advises the designer in the material choice, the fastener types and on the overall structure of the product, also taking into account the influence of the proposed design changes on other product-life-cycle phases. The guidelines are stored in the help facilities which will provide the designer with context specific help anytime during the process.
The software prototype based on this assessment method is a stand-alone PC based tool written in Visual C++ and using a MS Access database. This database not only stores the product model but also all the cost information of the processes in the recycling company.
The TOPROCO prototype has succesfully been tested with real-life industrial product designs of a keyboard, a vacuum cleaner, a pump control, a PC monitor, an oven door and a boiler.
The design process becomes more complex and more elaborate with the increasing danger to end up in a blind hole of suboptimal product design with respect to the overall balance of trade-offs across the fields of concerns to be taken into account. The real cost of a product today are quite often hidden by the unrecognized costs of disposal in the future. Increasing the initial costs may actually make the product more profitable, though usually as a long-term investment. Thus the objectives of the project are:
- to ease recycling in the long run by saving raw material and reducing waste
- design products with recycling in mind
- achieve a methodology for analysing product recyclability
These objectives will be addressed by developing an assessment method to be used in the early design phase of new products. Thus the following achievements are expected to results from the project:
- to capture and formalize the specific knowledge about recycling
- to design and validate a methodology for analyzing product recyclability
- to develop and test a prototype for the above
- to prepare and perform demonstrations of the prototype in industrial environments
- to disseminate the results of the project and to encourage further use and development
- to increase the economic use of recycled material.
With this achievement it should be possible to obtain a substantial reduction of material utilisation, waste production an finally the overal product cost including recycling and disposal.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
HR9 7BW Ross-on-wye