Design for Environment (DfE) promotes the systematic consideration of environmental aspects during product design and development. Despite the maturity of concepts and tools in literature, efficient implementation in industries is reported to be low. A need to bridge this gap is identified with studies that look on DfE practices as well as the use and potential of DfE tools.
This thesis is part of a research project that investigates DfE practices and the use of tools during vehicle design and development. The aim is to investigate the ways that environmental constraints can be efficiently integrated into product development processes thus assist in improving the environmental performance of products from a life cycle perspective. The scope of the study includes four vehicle manufacturing companies in Sweden. The development and utilization of tools has been also investigated aiming to increase the opportunities for effective use within this product category. Case study methodology, research interviews and literature reviews constitute the research strategy followed in this work.
The empirical results presented in this thesis indicated that vehicle manufacturing companies in Sweden are continually working to improve the environmental performance of their products and meet legal and costumer demands. Despite similarities regarding the type of environmental requirements considered, the companies studied have adopted different ways to identify and integrate environmental requirements into their product development process and use DfE tools to different extents. Such variations reflect differences in the success and maturity levels of the DfE practices adopted.
A need for increased and more systematic use of tools is identified for all studied companies and especially for analytical tools. Results from the literature review showed that a variety of tools are available that have the potential to support vehicle design processes. However, only a few cover a broad set of aspects identified to be relevant from a vehicle design perspective. For DfE tools to become effective and be used during product development, they need to cover aspects that are relevant for the company and product designers. A need towards the development of tools that assist vehicle or product designers in general, to make informed and comprehensive choices based on a variety of requirements associated to the product, is identified.