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issue: May 2009 APPLIANCE Magazine

Green Manufacturing
Web Exclusive: Software Tools for Sustainable Design


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As environmental movements evolve, it is no longer enough for companies to simply offer energy-efficient products. Manufacturers are increasingly scrutinized for the sustainability of the entire life cycle of their products, from manufacturing, assembly, and packaging, to the end-of-life recycling. Spotting this trend, several companies have rolled out tools that help OEMs achieve sustainable designs and manufacturing at every stage of the product life cycle.

The Sage software recently unveiled by DS SolidWorks (Orlando, FL, U.S.), for example, details in real time the environmental impact of a product’s parts, assemblies, and the other design details. The software, which comes in an “Xpress” and a “Professional” version, will be available with the firm’s fall release of SolidWorks 2010. Both versions will display a dashboard at the bottom of the SolidWorks user interface, providing information about a design’s prospective carbon footprint, air and water impact, and energy consumed in manufacturing. The Professional version will sum up the impact of an entire designed product across its environmental life cycle, and also include information on energy consumption throughout a product’s usage phase.

Another software tool, launched by provider of supply-chain management services ModusLink Global Solutions Inc. (Waltham, MA, U.S.), focuses on helping customers optimize sustainability within the supply chain while reducing costs. The Sustainable Solutions Suite measures and analyzes the amount of carbon emissions of various packaging types, as well as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during manufacturing, logistics, and other operational activities. Companies can compare the costs and emissions of current packaging design and multiple variations recommended by the software to come up with a design that most suits their goals.

The NX software from Siemens PLM Software (Plano, TX, U.S.) enables package designers to visualize all aspects of a design in real time and make design decisions based on green requirements. “Designs are instantly validated against the input requirements. This allows for rapid identification of issues and further experimentation toward the ‘greenest’ design that still delivers against all other requirements, such as compression strength, dimensions, materials of construction, etc.,” says Dan Staresinic, worldwide director, consumer products and life sciences. “Virtual prototyping is not only rapid, but the virtual world prevents the many iterations that traditionally end up in a scrap bin.”

Responding to customers’ requests, Boothroyd Dewhurst Inc. (Wakefield, RI, U.S.) has also added new “design-for-environment” tools to the latest version of its Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA) 2009 software. Besides helping OEMs estimate assembly labor and part manufacturing costs quickly, the new release allows product designers to identify and rate materials in order to comply with requirements such as the European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE).

 

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