Today’s manufacturers make decisions that can have a significant impact on the future of the environment and the people within it. There are solutions that enable ‘eco-friendly’ product development processes which lessen an organization’s carbon footprint.
Green Engineering is the practice of leveraging PLM data not only to help calculate the C02 footprint of a product but also to evaluate design and supply chain decisions with sustainability in mind.
Why is sustainability important in engineering?
A great sustainability strategy requires real actions. When designing a product, engineers must take into consideration the environmental impact of the processes and materials used.
In addition to the social and environmental good they generate, green strategies can also have tremendous business benefits including:
Reduction of raw materials and energy consumption
Increased top- and bottom-line through recycling and reuse programs
Ability to compete in markets with increasingly comprehensive and strict environment, health, and safety regulations
Improved brand reputation and goodwill
Improved company culture and employee engagement
Watch our video to learn how PTC’s portfolio of digital thread solutions help industrial companies drive their sustainability initiatives.
Disciplines of green engineering: PLM and the digital thread
There are many disciplines and tools that can support green engineering initiatives. Key among them include:
Design for sustainability
Design for sustainability takes a holistic view of the products impact on the customer and the environment through its lifecycle. For example, it is in the early stages of product development when material selections are made that can optimize energy consumption, manufacturing waste, and recyclability properties.
Assembly and disassembly design
Assembly and disassembly design is one way to maximize the value of a product while minimizing harmful impacts. By designing products that are easy to assemble and disassemble, manufacturers can ensure the product can be recycled or its components reused as efficiently as possible at the end of its lifecycle.
Generative design enables designers to assess various materials, evaluating what works best and is more sustainable (such as metal vs plastic). They can then visualize the best option and best combination of materials and design that fits the team’s sustainability goals. Generative design also improves the design and engineering processes by using cloud simulation, which reduces the need for iterative physical prototyping, saving time and material waste.
Manufacturing resource optimization
Certain products can have tens of thousands of parts. These parts are created from raw materials that in most cases, are extracted from the earth. Green engineering helps manufacturers optimize material usage with as little waste as possible.
To improve sustainability requires a deeper understanding of the full impact of a product. A digital twin—the digital model that represents its physical counterpart and is connected to its measurement data—can enable the tracking of a product through its lifecycle. This information can be used to identify reuse and recycling opportunities, and to inform more sustainable design decisions for the next generation of products.
A systems approach to green engineering
With PLM, everything from the products’ parts and components to its electrical, mechanical, and software systems are supported and managed based on a single source of truth. By leveraging this product data more broadly, manufacturers can automate and standardize sustainable processes and provide insights in real-time. This not only results in more environmentally friendly practices with public health benefits but also increases cost-effectiveness and efficiency.
A digital thread provides complete data about a product and its parts. Manufacturers can utilize this to select and design products with recyclable parts which minimizes waste, increasing recyclability and revenue.
By creating a circular lifecycle plan that enables materials management, your organization can use less, use better, and use again, as well as manage supplier and parts classification of sustainable materials.
Sustainable engineering along with a green PLM strategy helps manufacturers minimize the depletion of natural resources by reusing materials and eliminating waste. This protects nature while safeguarding human health.
Green processes enabled by a digital thread allow products and their lifecycles to be designed sustainably. Real-time product data is used to manufacture a product, making it less prone for errors and recalls.
PLM capabilities to support green engineering
Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE)
Supplier and Component Management
Design and develop products sustainably by connecting globally distributed design and engineering teams for a seamless workflow. By working more efficiently while tracking and tracing all design data, this information can be used when a product must be recycled.
MBSE applies modeling, tools, and methods to improve your systems engineering programs and projects. Product simulations can highlight potential failures before a physical product is built, avoiding scrap and waste. Manufacturing simulations can also help reduce energy and material usage during product generation. MBSE provides support by optimizing the use of resources to be more sustainable while complying with industry standards.
Enable supplier collaboration with vendors and partners that align with your green engineering goals. Sometimes, buyers and engineers struggle to understand supply chain dependencies, offerings, and overall supplier sustainability vision. By leveraging out-of-the-box processes for global supplier management, your organization can partner with suppliers that are also doing their part to help protect the environment.
Product complexity leads to thousands of parts. Often times many are duplicates because engineers can’t find what they need, when they need it. Parts classification helps engineers find and reuse parts, so material usage is optimized, duplicate parts are avoided, and waste is minimized. This approach helps reduce scrap, energy consumption, and drives costs down.
The Sustainability Imperative: PLM for Green Engineering
Sustainable manufacturing is creating new opportunities for businesses and the planet alike. Learn how utilizing PLM for green engineering creates a foundation for a successful sustainability program in this eBook from industry analyst CIMdata.
Windchill, as a global PLM platform for collaboration, can enable green product lifecycle management, including the necessary governance, cybersecurity, and open architecture. By leveraging product data more broadly, Windchill can help manufacturers automate and standardize sustainable processes and provide insights in real-time.