Download the model to play along with this example.
“Now let’s see what I can do for this more complex product! I actually have full Sustainability on my machine,” said Tom, “so let me fire it up in assembly mode with my toy model.”
First, Tom went through each of his parts and made sure that each of the parameters—materials and locations—were set for each part. Then, Tom viewed Sustainability at the assembly level, and Priscilla saw a couple new options available:
“The Manufacturing region is now specifying where the product is assembled, which adds a second transportation leg to each of the individual part manufacturing regions,” Tom explained. “And here, I can specify the primary mode of transportation of this second leg. As with your cup, my toy is assembled in Asia—though not all of the parts are manufactured there, as we discussed earlier—and used in North America, and sent across by ship.”
“And what’s that energy box?” Priscilla asked.
“That’s where I can specify how much energy is used by my product. It’s given in terms of the energy type consumed over the lifetime of the product—gasoline, diesel, electricity, etc. In my case, I assumed that my toy’s AA battery would be recharged from the grid ten times.”
Tom pulled up some figures for AA batteries. “Let’s see,” he said. “An AA battery has a capacity of 2500 milliamp-hours (mAh) at just over a volt, so that’s about 3 watt-hours (Wh) per battery. Ten battery recharges would draw 30 Wh, or 0.03 kWh over the lifetime of the toy.” He entered this value into the Product Lifetime Energy input parameter:
Finally, Tom baselined these parameters and looked at the results:
“You know, I’m surprised at what the charts are showing me,” he said to Priscilla. “I expected the power draw to significantly impact the Transportation and Use phase, but as you can see it’s really pretty negligible. I guess it isn’t hypocritical to be trying to make a lower-carbon battery-powered toy. That’s encouraging!
“What I am seeing,” he continued, “is that the materials, and the manufacturing process associated with these materials, constitute the bulk of the impacts.”
“Which ones, though?” asked Priscilla. “This toy has a lot of different parts of different materials.”
“I know, and I don’t want to open each one to look at its individual Sustainability results. Let’s look at this through the Assembly Visualization tool.”
Tom opened Assembly Visualization, which Priscilla had seen used before for viewing components by, say, total weight. Tom showed her how he could add a custom column for any of the Sustainability metrics:
Since Tom wanted to get an estimate of his carbon footprint, he wanted to use one of the carbon properties. He chose “Total Carbon”, which grouped together multiple instances of parts, to view for instance the effect of all four wheels together. He added this column and clicked on it to sort the parts by this indicator. Finally, Tom set the visualizing spectrum to meaningful colors and moved the slider to an appropriate cutoff:
“There,” said Tom. “Now I can see pretty clearly what the most impactful parts are in my model.” He showed Priscilla the resulting color-coded assembly:
“From the sorting and the model, I can clearly see that the wheels and the hub are the main parts that I should focus on when I redesign my toy. In fact, I can already see that there are a lot of materials that are less impactful than ABS, so I can lower the footprint substantially; and it’s great to know that working with my suppliers to see what different materials are available to me within the target cost-of-goods range will really make a difference, rather than looking at the transportation or the power use.
To make sure that Tom wasn’t missing any internal components that had significant impacts, Tom cross-sectioned the view to look inside:
“I know what I should focus on, and I have a quick sense of my carbon footprint. Now let me generate a report that I can take to the rest of my team to show them what I’ve found.”
Tom checked out a couple critical items in the report, such as a snapshot of the impact dashboard…
…And a look at the top three most impactful components:
See Tom’s full sustainability report here.
“This information gives me a screening-level look at the starting point for redesigning my toy, as well as ballpark figures of what I’ll eventually be able to use in my marketing, once I perform a full Life Cycle Assessment on the redesigned product.”
And with that, Tom and Priscilla started redesigning the toy fire engine. Can you come up with a lower carbon number than the final design they were able to produce?
|<<< Previous: Priscilla's Challenge||>>> Next: Chapter 7: The Sustainable Design Strategies|