Life Cycle Considerations as Decision Making Support in the Automotive Industry 970700
Products and services cause different environmental problems during the different stages of their life cycle. The Life Cycle Assessment tool aims to identify possibilities to improve the environmental behavior of the systems under consideration. Herefor it is necessary to systematically collect and interpret material and energy flows for all relevant processes. The whole life cycle of a system has to be considered to prevent the neglecting of shift of possible important environmental aspects.
In order to support designers, engineers and decision makers to make better informed decisions, it is necessary to perform LCA studies and economical assessments at a very early stage in product design. It is very well known, that the cost and environmental performance responsibility for a product lies mainly in the hand of the designers.
Therefore management tools and procedures have to be found or developed to include LCA in this early stage. By means of an integration approach LCA can help to enlarge today's valuation and decision making decisively. The earlier a well informed and not somehow fast performed decision can take place, the more freedom the designers have. This is getting more and more important with the decrease of product innovation times.
The potential of this approach, called Life-Cycle Engineering, is shown for an automotive application of different materials (Metals and Polymers) and is demonstrated exemplary. Starting from chosen automotive parts and sub-assemblies, the production of materials and the utilization phase is being considered. The recycling potentials of the different alternatives are also taken into consideration.