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February 15, 2010 / or4green

Environmentally Conscious Manufacturing Survey and Book

An earlier post mentioned Dr. Surendra M. Gupta from Northeastern University and his group’s work on “Environmentally Conscious Manufacturing” (ECM), much of it utilizing O.R. methods. ECM is essentially about sustainable manufacturing from design to production to delivery through to end-of-life. Gupta and Mehmet Ali Ilgin have a new survey on ECM in the Journal of Environmental Management. This is a follow-up to a 1999 survey by Gungor and Gupta mentioned here, a paper with 350+ citations (as of Jan 2010). The new work surveys 540(!) references dividing them into four categories: environmentally conscious product design, reverse and closed-loop supply chains, remanufacturing, and disassembly. While many working in sustainability have to come to the field only recently, Gupta and his group have been involved for many years, as the 1999 survey suggests.

Skimming the survey, the design-for-recycling papers sounded interesting, some of which use the analytic hierarchy process (AHP) and neural nets, and many of which come from materials-related journals. Mixed integer programming (both linear (MILP) and nonlinear (MINLP)) was a common technique among the reverse logistics and closed loop supply chain papers. Section 3.1.1 (p567) lists a large number of applications in these areas such as construction waste, carpeting, copier machines, computers, home appliances, hazardous waste, and spent batteries (I wrote about this here). Some of the models combine genetic algorithms, tabu search, simulated annealing and other heuristics with MILP’s or MINLP’s. Dozens of papers are cited in this section.

The wide array of applications represented across the numerous papers suggests many of them require custom models. One would hope that down the road, some commonalities could be found (or designed into existence), so that, for example, the reverse logistics for a spent battery would not be all that different from those of worn carpeting. And extensive surveys like this one can be very helpful in this process. In a way, the actual practice of single-stream recycling has started on this path. But reverse logistics for products can be far more complicated. For one, the products may not yet be waste; they may just be in need of refurbishing or similar. Related to this, they do not all share a common reverse network the way waste often does. But perhaps that will change over time if some of the notions of technological and biological nutrient cycles become more wide-spread.

Getting back to the survey, Sec 3.3 (p569) about transportation in reverse logistics cites numerous papers that utilize the vehicle routing problem. And additional OR methods (such as MCDM) appear in later sections on product end-of-life (EOL) strategy; production planning/scheduling in remanufacturing, and more. The citation is as follows (click on the title to access the paper):

Ilgin, M. A. and Gupta, S. M., Environmentally Conscious Manufacturing and Product Recovery (ECMPRO): A Review of the State of the Art, Journal of Environmental Management, Vol. 91, No. 3, 563-591, 2010.

Dr. Gupta has also recently co-authored a book proposing the application of numerous OR techniques to the strategic planning of reverse and closed-loop supply chains:

Pochampally, K. K., Nukala, S. and Gupta, S. M., Strategic Planning Models for Reverse and Closed-loop Supply Chains, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, ISBN: 9781420054781, 2009.

More information about the book is available at the CRC Press web site here, or through Amazon here (includes a fuller view of the table of contents.)

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