Our daily lives and welfare rely heavily on products. Considering that climate change is caused by humans, it is important to handle and use products in a sustainable manner; remanufacturing is one such way to accomplish this. Remanufacturing is an industrial process where products are restored into useful life. However, few products are designed for remanufacturing, which sometimes makes remanufacturing impossible or difficult to perform. Traditionally, the design focus has been on the manufacturing and use phases. The product life-cycle perspective, however, is required to obtain a more sustainable product life-cycle.
As the remanufacturing process is characterised by process steps such as inspection, disassembly, cleaning and reprocessing, the often labour-intensive remanufacturing process has specific requirements on the design. Further, the remanufacturing process is characterised by uncertainties such as when used products are expected and what state they will be in when they arrive. Information from the product life-cycle such as drawings and service reports could potentially facilitate the remanufacturing process. Further, feedback from remanufacturing to product design could improve the design of the next generation of products.
The objective of this thesis is to identify and analyse product life-cycle information flows with a particular focus on remanufacturing.
The design research methodology framework has been used to outline, plan and support the research. Previous research in the area has been assessed through a literature study, while the case study methodology was applied for carrying out the empirical studies. The data collection methods used in the case studies were semi-structured interviews, workshops and document analysis.
The result from the literature study shows that feedback such as suggestions for improvement from remanufacturing personnel, process data, and data about wear on components could help to improve the design of the next generation of products. Further, design changes could lead to a more efficient remanufacturing process. The three industrial cases presented in this licentiate thesis fail to explore the full potential of remanufacturing feedback to product design. All in all, remanufacturing is sufficiently included in the information flows of the product life-cycle. Design for remanufacturing is not applied in any of the industrial cases studied.
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2014. , 61 p.