The DFE Part of DFX (Design For Environment and eXcellence)

Design for Excellence (DFX) is a concept that includes many initiatives, like design for usability, design for manufacturability and assembly, and design for environment and disassembly. It’s a focus on doing things right, exceeding customer expectations, optimizing what’s needed while minimizing costs, and continuous improvement. 

Today we take a deep dive on one of those aspects: design for environment (DFE), including design for disassembly. What are reasons that a business would consider this important, and how does a design engineer fit in? 

What actions can we take today, right now? 

With where you work, look into the company’s policies about design for environment or design for disassembly. If they don’t have one ask, “Why not?” Consider the life cycle costing, marketing, and customer relationship aspects.

Consider incorporating some design requirements for environment and disassembly. You may be surprised to find that the regulations or standards that your design needs to meet specifies labeling and waste requirements, too. Different countries and regions may have different regulations about disposal, so keep that in mind. 

Think about other users besides the person using the device. Could there be other users, like repair people? Or, people that need to break down a device for recycling and repurposing? Consider including those users into your usability engineering efforts. 

And do some reading about where trash goes. It can give you some ideas about how you can better design for environment. Here's my suggestions:

Book: Royte, Elizabeth. Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash. United States, Little, Brown, 2007. 

Website: EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency): "Facts and Figures about Materials, Waste and Recycling" www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling 

If you've got a good source to share, please add it to the comments, below

There’s some previous episodes of the Quality During Design podcast that explores some of today’s concepts further: 

Episode 32 “Life Cycle Costing for Product Design Choices“ explains the calculations and offers equations, resources, and examples.  

Episode 24 “Why Look to Standards” talks about regulations for repair of products and how standards can be applied to design. They could help with keeping a design simple with components that can be reclaimed. 

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