Aims & Approach The main aim of this Remanufacturing Feasibility Project is to apply and validate an Integrated Modular Design Methodology GeMoCURE, originally developed for design support, in design for Product Upgrade and Reuse applications. Through this feasibility study, it is aimed to extend and redevelop a generic design for upgrade and reuse methodology, which is validated through two case studies and is developed to a stage where it demonstrates the potential benefits for industrial products to be upgraded in a either in-situ application where it is impossible to remove the whole system, or off-site upgrade. The consequent outcomes are expected to match the main objective of Defra’s BREW program, i.e. to return additional landfill tax receipts to businesses in a way that supports them in working to improve their resource efficiency and waste management. Two distinct products from two separate heavy industry companies in UK have been selected for the case studies i.e. the electric gasmizer diver gas recovery system from Divex Ltd. and the water injection pump from Weir Service Engineering Ltd. The electric gasmizer diver gas recovery system is one crucial part of deep-sea diving systems for dedicated diving support vessels and platforms. Its purpose is to recover gas mixtures breathed by divers, re-process them and deliver them into the supply system. Typical applications include off-shore oil and gas exploration, submarine rescue and so on. Water injection pumps are on the other hand designed to inject measured amounts of fluid or more specifically sea waters into an oil well reservoir to pump up more oil. Outcomes In summary, based on the investigation undertaken so far, understanding for product upgrading and reuse has been furthered both from academic and industrial perspectives. The proposed design methodology has been validated in a new design for upgrade scenario by its application for Diver Gas Recover System. It was found that there is a shortage of methodologies for product upgrade and the practical experience gained for modular product design was invaluable. However, some limitations of proposed design methodology were also revealed when applied to these two products such as application scope and capability of developed algorithm. The detailed findings of the feasibility study were:
  • The proposed modular design methodology is valid and handy for product modularization, and can extend the existing products’ life by upgrading and reusing the identified modules. This operation would be even easier if more modular design considerations had been taken into account during their initial design stage. The benefits from the application of proposed methodology could probably be more obvious for those products with more primitive building elements such as Divex product. In contrast, for the simpler products with a few primitive elements it is less effective at the component level.
  • All the potential modules are disclosed by introducing the module strength indicator. This is crucial as it provides more options for designers to make their own decisions subject to different design specifications. However identifying each module from one particular viewpoint might not be accurate as the relations from the different viewpoints of the product might be ignored.
  • The rationalization of the dependencies is crucial for getting accurate results in Design Structure Matrix (DSM) analysis. Even the dependencies were known for this study before input, there was still deviation from this that produced inaccurate results. This remains to be a future area for improvements for the GeMoCURE approach. It is also important to choose which dependencies are actually suitable to include in the DSM. This is a subjective exercise which requires an involvement from the whole project staff in each company to ensure wider range of opinions available.
  • Along with the detailed information on the product, more market information should also be a part of the application of product modular design. These might include the availability of the modules and the cost. Therefore it might be necessary to collate the information from different departments before determining the modules. This is also applicable during the construction of the functional structure of the generic product. Then variety of products to be developed then could meet the market tendency.
Future Work The work completed till now is only the initial investigation and findings, which show some positive results and potential benefits to industrial users. More future work should be continued to refine and popularize the current research, including,
  • Develop the algorithm to identify the cross-viewpoint modules from the cross-viewpoint DSM where the concepts of one viewpoint horizontally on the matrix against the concepts of the other viewpoint vertically, especially including design for upgrade
  • Investigate how to improve the product design by the modularization at the level of design features and design parameters etc. This is aimed to improve the pump design.
  • Develop the software which integrates each modular design step, and can provide the friendly human-machine interface and results interpretations.
  • Apply and popularize the software in other companies, and aim to be an effective product design for upgrade aid tool.
  • One conference paper is being prepared for publication on the related work.
  • Write a news article to the Eureka or similar industry oriented magazine to disseminate the results of the feasibility project.
  • Also prepare papers to disseminate the results in academic journals.
  • Continue to work with Divex, and new companies such as Clyde Pumps Ltd and McVites to explore and apply the approach to increase the impact and benefits to the companies.
  • Develop further research projects for EPSRC and other funding councils for more complex systems upgrade and reuse