The eco-design of industrial products is a complex task that requires a high level of expertise in environmental science and a very large amount of data about the product under development. Product data for eco-design are not limited to geometrical and technical aspects; they also include information related to the product life cycle. The present paper aims to define a life cycle standard data model (LCSDM) that manages and shares life cycle information along the product development process. The LCSDM is defined as a common and structured framework for data collection in comparative evaluations. The need of a “standard” data model emerges in the context of life cycle assessment (LCA), mainly due to the subjectivity related to the life cycle inventory phase. The standard structure of the LCSDM facilitates the interoperability of eco-design software tools by creating a common framework for the implementation of eco-design initiatives inside product manufacturing companies. The LCSDM is a data structure that is able to represent the relationships among parts and assemblies. Each part or assembly is defined by a set of nodes that characterize the life cycle phases (e.g., Material, Manufacturing, Use, End-of-life, and Transport). A list of attributes is identified according to the environmental features that describe the product life cycle. The LCSDM structure is implemented in an encoding document for data sharing through a generic software language (e.g., XML – eXtensible Markup Language). The implementation of the proposed LCSDM in the design department of a manufacturing company using an eco-design software platform leads to the following benefits: (i) the fulfilment of the LCSDM (XML file) along the product development process, (ii) the use of a unique standard for data sharing among the several eco-design software tools, and (iii) the creation of a robust framework for life cycle assessment. The main drawback of the proposed LCSDM is related to the initial effort required to set up the design software platform (which consists of both standard and eco-design tools) to be able to read, fill, store and share the LCSDM.
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