The purpose of this area is to ensure economic feasibility in designing and fabricating products that make rational use of our planet’s scanty natural and energy resources. This allows negative impacts on the environment to be minimized and provides security for workers, consumers and society.
In today’s global scenario, traditional evaluations applied to manufacturing processes – which are limited to verifying their performance in terms of productivity and quality – do not provide all the elements required to decide whether or not to adopt the process in question on an industrial scale. Instead, they must be understood as unit processes whose main inputs and outputs are mapped and quantified (Figure 1). This analysis must go beyond the assessment of the energy consumption of the unit process to include the other consumables, emissions, wastes and nonconforming products. A systematic inventory is a crucial step in determining the life cycle and environmental impact of a product. Therefore, all the phases of a product’s life must be considered, from the extraction of raw materials to the base industry, manufacturing, use and disposal. End-of-life alternatives (recycling, remanufacturing and reuse) are considered, as well as the transportation activities between each of these phases.
Figure 1 – Systematic inventory of manufacturing processes – grinding