Kim, Harrison Hyung Min (chair, director)
Kontou, Eleftheria (member)
Thurston, Deborah L (member)
Wang, Pingfeng (member)
Design & Manufacturing
Designing an Optimal Module-based Product Family and Commonality for Circularity
Rapid technological advances have accelerated the rate of global consumption and the pace of product disposal. Products are rapidly being disposed of or replaced even though they are functional or have sufficient residual value. A circular system has emerged as an alternative to solve the problems of the existing linear system (take-make-use-dispose). The circular system is a system that keeps resources in use, if possible, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end-of-life stage. This system maintains resources in use as much as possible and then recovers and recycles products and materials at the end-of-life stage through end-of-life product recovery strategies such as reuse, recycling, remanufacturing, and refurbishment. Through a circular system, companies can fulfill their social and ethical responsibilities for the environment, respond appropriately to environmental regulations, and obtain economic benefits, but many companies are struggling due to a lack of understanding of the market and design strategies for recovery.
Product design determines the extent of environmental impact over the entire product life cycle (material extraction, production, use, end-of-life), product recovery strategies, and effectiveness. Therefore, it is necessary to design in consideration of the entire product life cycle in the initial design stage. This dissertation focuses on improving product recovery through design decisions, such as product commonality, product module design, and product configuration design. This dissertation presents several methodologies for design for recovery that can help companies achieve a variety of goals, such as profitability and sustainability, as well as efficiency in production processes and protection of sensitive design and information. The methodologies proposed in this dissertation can be used as product design support tools to help product designers identify appropriate product designs and find commonalities within a product family.
The main contribution of this dissertation is that the methodologies propose design methods that considering various issues that arise between circular economy and the goals that companies need to achieve, which are rarely considered concurrently in previous studies. The purpose of these methodologies is to identify obstacles that many companies recognize the importance of circulatory systems, but which cannot be easily incorporated into their designs and to present a design methodology to overcome them. Each method provides product design alternatives to minimize problems that may occur through the application of circular design, such as deterioration of product performance through commonality, intellectual property infringement, the inefficient recovery process, and changes in customer preferences while increasing the possibility of product recovery.