Incorporating work factors
in design for disassembly
in product design
Anoop Desai and Anil Mital
Department of Industrial and manufacturing Engineering,
University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Purpose – This paper seeks to present a methodology to design products for disassembly. This
would facilitate end-of-life product disassembly with a view to maximizing material usage in the
supply chain at a low cost to the environment.
Design/methodology/approach – The methodology presented in the paper draws on
fundamentals related to task analysis and motion time measurement. The methodology was
practically applied to disassemble several different consumer products with signiﬁcant savings in
Findings – Several improvements in product design resulted from various perspectives including
functionality, assembly, aesthetics and disassembly.
Research limitations/implications – The paper identiﬁes several areas of future research
including design optimization and designing work ﬁxtures for disassembly.
Originality/value – This work presents in part an improvement in current methodologies related to
disassembly as well as original work based on task analysis and suggestion of design alternatives.
The paper is therefore valuable to practitioners and researchers alike.
Keywords Task analysis, Work design, Time measurement
Paper type General review
In the engineering context, disassembly may be deﬁned as the organized process
of taking apart a systematically assembled product (assembly of components).
Products may be disassembled to enable maintenance, enhance serviceability
and/or to affect end-of-life (EOL) objectives such as product reuse, remanufacture
In the present era of environmental awareness, EOL objectives such as component
reuse (components from a retired product being used without up gradation in a new
product), remanufacture (components from a retired product being used in a new
product after technological up gradation) and recycling (reuse at the material level, e.g.
recycling of plastics) constitute some of the most important reasons for disassembling
products. This can be attributed to the staggering impact of industrial and domestic
waste on the environment. Widespread diffusion of consumer goods and shortening of
product lifecycles has lead to an unprecedented number of used products being
discarded. For example, every family in the USA is expected to own a computer
by 2005. In 1991, Carnegie Mellon University estimated that by this time, some
150 million obsolete PCs, none with readily recoverable materials, would require more
than eight million cubic meters of land ﬁll space at a cost of around US$400 million
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Received August 2003
Revised January 2004
Accepted March 2004
Journal of Manufacturing Technology
Vol. 16 No. 7, 2005
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited