Methodologies to improve product life cycle decision making in the telecommunications industry
As pressure from regulation and customers increases on telecommunications equipment manufacturers and service providers to reduce the hazardous material content of telecommunications products and generally improve environmental performance, new methods for Product Life Cycle Management are required. Supplier and component environmental evaluation are vital and fundamental elements of any Product Life Cycle Management programme, as is the capture of data from the supply base. The information that needs to be captured from the supply base to meet the requirements of customers of telecommunications equipment providers; to meet the requirements of legislation; and to provide data for improving ecodesign and facilitating product-focused continual improvement for ISO 14001 has been identified. A method for capturing data from the supply base has been developed and recommendations made for implementation. A hierarchical supplier and component eco-evaluation methodology has been developed and tested. This methodology incorporates supplier environmental management performance, component inherent human toxicity, ecotoxicity and resource depletion. It provides component qualifiers and purchasers with a method of supplier environmental performance comparison and enables this criterion to be integrated with existing criteria such as quality and cost in the component and supplier selection decision-making process. Recommendations are made regarding the implementation of an industry-wide system to enable the capture of detailed product material composition data from the supply chain and the implementation of the eco-evaluation methodology to identify the supplier that has superior environmental performance. The result will be enhanced decision making in product design and manufacture, improved transparency in communication to customers and more informed decision-making at the end-of-life stage of the product life cycle.