Modeling product life cycle networks in SysML with a focus on LCD computer monitors
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Electronic waste has become a growing concern in the world among governments, businesses, and consumers. These concerns are well founded as electronics waste presents economic, social, and environmental challenges. Economically, discarding electronic waste into landfills represents inefficient use of valuable materials and energy resources. Socially, improperly recycled electronic waste that takes place in third world countries with poor labor standards represents a moral dilemma for developed countries. Environmentally, electronic waste is a threat to all living organisms as it contains proportionally high levels of poisonous and toxic materials. To deal with these growing challenges a strong response needs to be made by all the stakeholders in the life-cycle of electronic devices. However, despite the apparent need, compared to the rapid increases in electronic technology that make it faster, more available, and more affordable, the technology to process electronic waste has not kept pace. This fact alone points to the inadequate funding, attention, and research that has been invested in the problem. Though it also points to an opportunity; the opportunity to build an efficient system to deal with the problem using what is already known about the lifecycle of electronic devices. Therefore, the goal of this work is to create a modeling tool to help stakeholders in the lifecycle of electronic devices understand the consequences of their choices as they affect the use of material and energy resources. To focus the research, LCD computer monitors are chosen as a case study. LCD computer monitors provide a level of sophistication high enough to be interesting in terms of the stakeholders involved, yet simple enough to provide a reasonable scope for this research that is still accessible to the layman As a corollary to this modeling effort, the relatively new systems modeling language SysML and ParaMagic, a program that integrates analysis modeling capability into SysML, will be evaluated. SysML was designed with Model Based Systems Engineering principles in mind thus it seems that it is a natural fit to the problem domain. Furthermore, testing SysML will provide insight into the advantages and disadvantages of the new language. The findings with respect to LCD computer monitors show that increasing the number of end of life options and the amount of monitors flowing into those options could result in substantial network wide material and energy savings. The findings with respect to SysML and ParaMagic are mixed. Although SysML provides tremendous modeling freedom, this freedom can result in increased upfront costs for developing executable models. Similarly, ParaMagic was found to be an effective tool for creating small executable models, but as the size of models increase its effectiveness tends to zero.