Adapting the Robust Design Methodology to support sustainable product development
Journal article, 2014
Research on product development has pointed to a challenge in integrating sustainability considerations into existing engineering practices rather than adding additional sets of practices and tools. The question is what practices are suitable for consideration? One set of practices and tools, deemed suitable due to its focus on long-term impacts and customer focus, is Quality Management. Within this area, the Robust Design Methodology has a historic connection to sustainability vis-à-vis quality loss caused by a product not only to an individual customer, but to society at large. Hence, there appears to be a neglected connection to the sustainability area. This paper explores how efforts based on the Robust Design Methodology may better contribute to sustainability and, more specifically, to sustainable product development. This paper reviews earlier Robust Design Methodology case studies that reveal how it supports sustainability. However, the reviews also reveal that efforts so far have focused only on the manufacturing and use phases of a product's lifecycle. Hence, adaptations of the methodology are needed, such as more conceptual and qualitative tools and explicit inclusion of eco-design indicators as a response variable in, for example, Design of Experiments. Adapting the Robust Design Methodology enables meeting the key aspects of an eco-design tool: addressing early integration of environmental aspects in development processes, having a lifecycle approach, and being a multi-criteria approach.