Lifecycle analysis (LCA) refers to the documentation of all aspects of the "lifecycle" of a product, from raw material production, manufacture, distribution, use and disposal and including all intervening transportation steps necessary or caused by the product's existence. While it represents a stricter standard than a simple manufacturing emissions-based footprint, a comprehensive LCA can open up new revenue opportunities, says AMR Research's John Davies.
"For example, Caterpillar expanded their remanufacturing opportunity into a multibillion dollar business," remarks Davies (see "Caterpillar's LCA Experience"). "This was driven in large part by leveraging their salvaging technologies to look at additional product lines with a more environmentally focused perspective."
Caterpillar's LCA Experience
|Remanufacturing has proven to be a carbon saver for Caterpillar Inc., among other benefits. For example, taking a look at the comparative environmental impact of remanufacturing a cylinder head versus creating a new one has revealed many positive metrics.|
|Environmental Impact Category||Remanufactured vs. New|
|GHG emissions||>50% less|
|Water use||>90% less|
|Energy use||>80% less|
|Material use||>99% less|
|Landfill space||>99% less|
Better than that value chain visibility, however, is the experience and training that his engineers are getting, says Wolfsberger. "We've contracted for two LCAs of two of the products in our electrical group, but part of our contract is them training our people to develop the in-house capacity to do LCAs ourselves. This outside contract is the first step, but then we're looking forward to having the knowledge of the lifecycle assessment that will then become part of our product development process."