Autodesk Inc. took a
huge step towards helping its engineering customers address the challenges
associated with sustainable design via its announcement this week of a
strategic partnership with Granta Design
Ltd., a company recognized for its materials information technology.
Granta's software is currently used by engineering
enterprises to manage materials information; to help select, substitute and
optimize costs around materials choices; and to help design in the context of
environmental objectives and regulations. Autodesk's vision is to partner with
Granta to leverage its materials information database and technology to empower
better materials selection when it comes to sustainable design, according to
Sarah Krasley, Autodesk's industry manager, sustainability.
"There are a lot of issues users are coming up against in
terms of making better decisions earlier on in the design process," Krasley
says. "What a part is made up of can drastically change the environmental
footprint of a product. We want to empower engineers with better choices."
As a result of their partnership, Granta and Autodesk plan
to co-develop software that will add new sustainable design capabilities to the
Autodesk solution. The companies will work to integrate Granta's eco design
methods and materials database information into the Autodesk digital
prototyping suite, with the goal being to help designers estimate the
environmental impact of their products and make more informed design decisions
around sustainability, Krasley explains.
For example, an engineer who has routinely chosen a specific
material has no visibility into what the environmental impact of that material
is, she says. "They know that it has to adhere to certain performance criteria
and that it needs to work with the machines in the factory that have to produce
it," she says. "They haven't fully explored the materials aspect because that
don't have visibility into what other materials could work that wouldn't end up
in a landfill or that would deliver a better carbon footprint."
Design issues around sustainability are increasing in
importance, Krasley says, pointing to dozens of initiatives, including
Walmart's Sustainability Index and the EPEAT regulations for consumer
electronics. There is also the FTC "Green Guide," a
directive would require manufacturers marketing their products as made with
renewable materials to answer specific questions such as how much of the
product is made with those materials, how they are sourced and why they are
There is no timeframe for delivery of a specific product
resulting from the Autodesk/Granta alliance. Rather, Krasley said the companies
will be collaborating and working with customers over the next few months to
explore possible options.
Wal-Mart will hold its second Made in the USA Open Call July 7-8, at its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. The event will be a repeat effort by the world’s biggest seller of consumer goods to increase the amount of US-made products it sells in Wal-Mart stores, in Sam’s Club members-only wholesale outlets, and on walmart.com.
From design feasibility, to development, to production, having the right information to make good decisions can ultimately keep a product from failing validation. The key is highly focused information that doesn’t come from conventional, statistics-based tests but from accelerated stress testing.
There’s a good chance that a few of the things mentioned here won't fully come to fruition in 2015 but rather much later down the line. However, as Malcolm X once said, "The future belongs to those who prepare for it today."
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