In previous work, the idea of designing for the life cycle (DFLC) was investigated through the improvement of product architectures with an emphasis on increasing modularity. In this paper, that work is extended by developing a method for suggesting changes to the product to improve the correspondence between modules from different life-cycle viewpoints. Based on an analogy to the determination of critical paths in network analysis, the identification of limiting factors in a candidate design is intended to assist the designer in recognizing design changes that have the greatest impact on improving recyclability. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate how the identification of limiting factors can be used to improve product recyclability during configuration design. A general method for identifying and prioritizing the limiting factors is presented and applied in the context of improving recyclability. This method is shown to be capable of efficiently determining effective design changes to improve product modularity and recyclability. It is argued that the concept of limiting factors and the developed method are applicable to many different configuration design issues and not limited to recycling or even other DFLC issues. A validation of the limiting factor identification method is presented using a Genetic Algorithm and an exhaustive search.

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