Relating manufacturing system configuration to life-cycle environmental performance: discrete-event simulation supplemented with LCA
Journal article, 2011
To meet the increasing need for practical life-cycle thinking in manufacturing, this paper proposes a method that includes the life-cycle perspective in manufacturing decision making. This method combines discrete-event simulation (DES) – commonly used for the conceptual evaluation of manufacturing systems – with life-cycle assessment (LCA). This combination captures the dynamic interrelationships between manufacturing processes in order to analyse systemic responses to configuration changes, something static LCA modelling cannot do. The method evolved when a bearing production line at SKF was being examined to relate manufacturing decision making to environmental consequences. This was done using DES to investigate how parameters normally used to optimize traditional manufacturing system performance influence energy use and material losses in manufacturing systems. The environmental consequences of this material loss and energy use are further calculated using LCA methodology. Results indicate that while the combination of the two methods increases the data collection workload, it uncovers previously hidden environmental consequences of manufacturing decision making and introduces a way to assess an industrial actor’s manufacturing system using relevant LCA scenarios.