The Contribution of Modularity to Green Operations Practices

Breno Nunes, David Bennett

Abstract


This paper discusses the possible contributions from modularity and industrial condominiums towards enhancing environmental performance in the automotive industry. The research described in this study is underpinned by a review of journal articles and
books on the topics of: modularity of production systems; green operations practices, and the automotive industry and sustainability. The methodology is based on theoretical
analysis of the contribution of the modular production system characteristics used in the automotive industry for Green Operations Practices (GOP). The following GOPs were
considered: green buildings, eco-design, green supply chains, greener manufacturing, and reverse logistics. The results are theoretical in nature; however, due to the small number of
studies that investigate the relationship between modularity and sustainability, this work is relevant to increase knowledge in academic circles and among practitioners in order to understand the possible environmental benefits from modular production systems. For instance, based upon our analysis, we could deduce that the existing modular production systems in the automotive industry may contribute in different ways to the implementation of GOPs. In all types of modularity, product simplification through the use of modules can enhance environmental performance and facilitate further activities such as maintenance and repair contributing to a longer life of cars on the road. Moreover, modules will make automobiles easier to disassembly, so increasing the chances of reuse of valuable
components and a better final disposal of scrap. Regarding the potential benefits of each type of modularity, it is expected that modular consortia will have a better integration of environmental practices with suppliers and seize on high efficiency during manufacturing and logistics compared with conventional production systems.

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