Dismantling is a relatively new practice and much less developed than automobile production. In developed countries, most current dismantling facilities function like a workshop. However, an increase in car production and the further development of legislation require improvements in the process. For example, since 2006, the European Union has required that 85% of car weight be recycled, and since 2015 this requirement has increased to 95%.
The need to disassemble and recycle a greater number of cars raises several issues. Such themes correspond to that of Ahner et al. (2022) and advocate reconciling the economic, social and ecological dimensions.
The first challenge is to create a partnership between the manufacturing and disassembling industries (Kazmierczak et al., 2004) and establish a thoughtful disassembly design from the start. The second is the development of new tools for dismantling (Kazmierczak et al., 2004) and the last issue is the environment. The automotive industry must become more ecological. This means that more of the car has to be recycled or recovered and the process has to be as environmentally friendly as possible.
This article shows several ways to improve vehicle dismantling while addressing these challenges. The improvements are intended to move the current dismantling towards a dismantling 4.0/5.0 that respects workers and the environment.
Dismantling vehicles in workshop mode could be more efficient and poses health and safety risks, including ergonomic risks, for mechanics. Upcoming developments must meet expectations and future demand.
To achieve this, it is essential to first reduce non-value-added working time (Kazmierczak et al., 2007). This can be achieved by optimizing the dismantling process, but also by improving communication between manufacturers and dismantling companies. This would bring the standardization of parts and the development of planned disassembly concepts. The proportion of destructive dismantling would then decrease and at the same time the recovery rate of parts would increase. The automotive industry would be greener and complying with new environmental standards would be easier.
Second, technology is a powerful and essential tool to become a 4.0/5.0 dismantling industry. Various articles have highlighted interest in exoskeletons. These would help reduce physical exertion and fatigue for mechanics (Huysamen et al., 2018). Wearing connected glasses could reduce human error and the unproductive comings and goings of mechanics (Averbukh et al., 2020). They would directly affect production. Finally, human-robot collaboration has two advantages – optimizing production and delegating repetitive tasks to the robots (Wegener et al., 2015).
Full automation is not yet achievable in automotive disassembly (Wegener et al., 2015). The proposed improvements can support people in their tasks without replacing them. For the time being, they retain control of production and technology to improve performance and well-being at work. Human labor is still essential to many steps of disassembly that cannot be done otherwise.
About the authors
Matthew Grange is M.Eng. Aerospace engineering student at the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS). Its application project focused on 4.0/5.0 disassembly.
Sylvie Nadeau is a full professor and head of the master’s program “Occupational Health and Safety Risk Engineering” at the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS). She is also the head of the Laboratory for Applied Human Factors.
Luke Hof is a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the École de technologie supérieure ÉTS. His research interests include advanced and circular manufacturing, micromachining, mechatronics, and electrochemical manufacturing.
The École de technologie supérieure is one of ten components of the Université du Québec network. It trains engineers and researchers recognized for their practical and innovative approach, the development of new technologies and their ability to transfer their knowledge to companies. Almost a quarter of all Québec’s engineers graduate from ÉTS, which has 11,000 students, including 2,650 at the graduate and postgraduate level. ÉTS specializes in applied engineering education and research and enjoys a unique partnership with business and industry. Visit etsmtl.ca for more information.
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