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Multi-criteria decision making as a tool for sustainable product development

Benefits and obstacles

Buchert, Tom; Neugebauer, Sabrina; Schenker, Sebastian; Lindow, Kai; Stark, Rainer

For developing sustainable products design engineers need to foresee diverse interrelations between a product's characteristics and its economic, social and environmental impacts. In order to support this complex task a wide range of design methods has been developed. Retrospective analytical methods like Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA) require a large amount of information and are thus utilized when important design decisions are already made. Prospective methods are rather generic (e.g. checklists) and too broad to be helpful in concrete design decisions. In this paper, the integration of discrete decision trees with LCSA is proposed for shifting multi-criterial quantitative analysis to earlier development. On the basis of sustainability indicators Pareto-optimal decision-paths for given material- and process alternatives along the product lifecycle can be compared up-front. Resulting benefits and obstacles are illustrated by evaluating value creation options of a bicycle frame.
Published in: Procedia CIRP, 10.1016/j.procir.2014.07.110, Elsevier