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Simulation and Analysis for Sustainability in Manufacturing Processes



Mahesh Mani, Kevin W. Lyons, Alexander P. Muroyama, Bjorn J. Johansson


Sustainability has become a ubiquitous term in almost every field, especially in engineering design and manufacturing. Recently, an increased awareness of environmental problems and resource depletion has led to an emphasis on environmentally friendly practices. This is especially true in the manufacturing industry where energy consumption and the amount of waste generated can be high. This requires proactive tools to be developed to carefully analyze the cause-effect of current manufacturing practices and to investigate alternative practices. One such approach to sustainable manufacturing is the combined use of Discrete Event Simulation (DES) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to analyze the utilization and processing of manufacturing resources in a factory setting. On an economic aspect such methods can significantly reduce the financial and environmental costs by evaluating the system performance before its construction or use. In this project, what-if scenarios in a simplified golf ball factory using as close to real-world data as possible demonstrate DES and LCA’s ability to facilitate decision-making and optimize the manufacturing process. Plastic injection molding, an energy-intensive step in the golf ball manufacturing process, is the focus of the DES model. AutoMod, a 3-D modeling software, was used to build the DES model and AutoStat was used to run the trials and analyze the data. By varying the input parameters such as type and number of injection molding machines and material used, the simulation model can output data indicating the most productive and energy efficient methods. On a more detailed level, the simulations can provide valuable information on bottlenecks or imbalances in the system. Correcting these can allow the factory to be both “greener” and more cost-effective.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 7790
Report Number


Sustainability, Discrete Event Simulation, Life Cycle Assessment, Injection Molding


Mani, M. , Lyons, K. , P., A. and J., B. (2011), Simulation and Analysis for Sustainability in Manufacturing Processes, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed February 29, 2024)
Created May 11, 2011, Updated November 10, 2018