Life cycle assessment through on-line database linked with various enterprise database systems
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Goal, Scope and Background
Performing a life cycle assessment (LCA) has been a rather resource and time-consuming business. The method of data collection may be problematic, and the quality of the final results can be influenced by the reliability of the data. Therefore, it is helpful to utilize an on-line data gathering system to save time and to improve the reliability of the collected raw data.
We have developed an LCA software package for a steel company. The software consists of two major parts: an LCA tool kit and an interface program. The LCA tool kit is a user interface for handling an LCA database server. It has powerful functions to execute systematic analysis, not only for the amount of energy and raw materials, but also for the volume of pollutants generated by each component. The latter is an interface program between a data handling system and an on-line data gathering system. This interface program is linked with three enterprise database systems, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), an environmental management system (EMS) and an energy server system (ESS). In this study, we compared three different ways of performing LCA. Two of them are on-line methods, and another is manual.
Results and Discussion
Among the three methods, the best method was on-line LCA linked with ERP, EMS and ESS. Case studies in steel works have shown that the current method is superior to manual data gathering in terms of time and cost (man-month) savings, data reliability and other applications. Results of life cycle inventory and life cycle impact assessment for steel products have shown monthly fluctuations due to fuel usage ratio, which have not been detected before using manual data gathering.
An LCA can be performed quickly, if one is to employ the on-line data gathering system we have developed. The system consists of an LCA software package including the interface program and LCA tool kit, and the enterprise database systems. Case studies for LCA with the on-line system have shown superior performance to that carried out using the manual data entry method.
Recommendations and Perspective
This system enables an enterprise to take Type III and conduct benchmarking to other companies or societies within a short time. Also, combining this tool with an environmental performance evaluation or accounting system can allow one to achieve a more progressive environmental management.
KeywordsClient/server energy server system enterprise database system environmental management system enterprise resource planning integrated interface life cycle assessment (LCA) LCA software package on-line data gathering steel product
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