Failure analysis method for enhancing circularity through systems perspective
Journal article, 2021

Recently, a circular economy has attracted global attention as an approach for addressing material security and resource-efficiency issues. As our societies shift toward a circular economy, manufacturers need to not only produce environmentally conscious products but to also realize reliable systems that will ensure the closure of the loops of the products, components, and materials. To do so, early-stage design is crucial to effectively and efficiently detect possible failures and then take adequate countermeasures against them. Although a few methods of failure analysis have been proposed to address environmental issues, these methods have failed to consider the cause–effect relationships among failures. This will hinder manufacturers from identifying core problems that should be addressed in a given system. Therefore, this study extends failure mode and effect analysis, which is an engineering technique used to address potential failures, by addressing the entire system reliability in relation to circularity. As a result of a case study of a manufacturer aiming to increase circularity with their products on the market, we revealed that the proposed method is useful in the early stage of design to (a) identify failure modes where effects are largely given to or received from other failures, (b) develop countermeasures effectively by addressing root causes of failures, and (c) find an opportunity to collaborate with external actors.

product-service system (PSS)

failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA)

system design

decision-making trial and evaluation laboratory (DEMATEL)

circular economy

industrial ecology


Koji Kimita

University of Tokyo

Sergio A. Brambila-Macias

Linköping University

Anne-Marie Tillman

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Environmental Systems Analysis

Tomohiko Sakao

Linköping University

Journal of Industrial Ecology

1088-1980 (ISSN) 1530-9290 (eISSN)

Vol. 25 3 544-562

Mistra REES – Resource-Efficient and Effective Solutions

The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (Mistra), 2016-01-01 -- 2019-12-31.

Subject Categories

Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics

Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified

Environmental Management

Areas of Advance




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