Supply Network Design and Product Environmental Performance

Project: Research project


Do different configurations of a products supply network yield different environmental performance? We posit that the different configurations of supply networks cause more or less work to be coordinated, yield different exposure to externalities, and different patterns of product and information flow. These mid-level effects lead to more or less economies of scale in resource usage and transportation, thus impacting environmental performance. In order to test these propositions, we use life cycle data of over 6500 manufacturing processes contained in the EcoInvent and IVAM databases, which are part of the SimaPro Life Cycle Analysis software platform. Methods from network analysis will be used to quantify network structure and SimaPro will be used to calculate environmental impacts of interest. In doing so we assume similarity between a products life cycle model and its supply network. In order to test this assumption, we will perform a case study of beef products to see how similar a products supply network and life cycle model are. Our team of researchers from Arizona State University, Oregon State University, the University of Washington, and the University of Arkansas has expertise in operations and supply chain management, statistical modeling, survey design, social network analysis, and environmental life cycle analysis. Intellectual merit: The practice of life cycle analysis is a common practice in industry, yet it has not been used to study the issue of process choice in manufacturing strategy. Our work fills a void in the academic literature by proposing a theory of how the structure of a products technology network might impact its environmental performance We will also be the first study to empirically test the link between process structure and sustainability.. Broader impacts: If our hypotheses are true, this will suggest an entirely new dimension to environmental product design. Given two competing technologies or supply chains, designers can be steered towards ones with greater sequential (and lower pooled) interdependencies.1_To
Effective start/end date9/15/108/31/12


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $316,205.00


Network design
Environmental performance
Supply network
Life cycle analysis
Life-cycle model
Network analysis
Economies of scale
Environmental impact
Social network analysis
Product lifecycle
And supply chain management
Manufacturing process
Supply chain
Choice process
Information flow
Product technology