May 12, 2022
Autodesk design software users may soon see life cycle assessment tools in their familiar software packages. In a briefing with DE, the company confirms it's working with Makersite, a data software firm, to offer ways to estimate a design's environmental impact at the conceptual design phase.
Leveraging its database, Makersite uses the bill of materials (BOM) to perform lifecyele analysis (LCA), then produce a report on environmental impact drivers, manufacturing cost, and compliance issues. “Last year, we did about 20 million LCA,” said Neil D'Souza, CEO of Makersite.
The Makersite database is the equivalent of a compliance engineer, safety engineer, a cost expert, and an environmental expert combined, D'Souza pointed out. “That's why Makersite can provide the insights without the real-time support from such experts; and that allows us to scale,” he said. “With Autodesk, our goal is to push this capability toward the design engineers.”
The Data is the Secret Sauce
D'Souza said the Makersite database contains a rich set of data derived from 400 types of materials. The company says it's the only firm that offers “ISO-grade LCA.” Its tools are designed for Scope1, 2, and 3 emission reporting, which includes fuel-related activities, leased assets, employee commute, generated waste, facilities, transportation, and end-of-life disposal methods, among others.
Makersite's LCA data is derived from about 140 sources, including the nonprofit ecoinvent's database, the AGRIBALYSE (agriculture and food) database, The Swedish Lifecycle Center's CPM database, and the BioEnergieDat (bioenergy and supply chain) database. Makersite is funded in part by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
“We have the largest supply chain database in the world. We cover about 35% of global supply chains at the moment,” said D'Souza.
The integration of sustainability assessment tools into 3D CAD design software is relatively new and not yet widespread. One such example is SOLIDWORKS Sustainability, part of SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD software. Based on the GaBi database, the Sustainability module allows designers to estimate air acidification, carbon footprint, water eutrophication, and energy consumed. Combined with cost estimate features, the tool is an effective way to balance the designer's sustainability goals and manufacturing cost. (For more, read “Sustainability Beyond Carbon Counting,” February 2022)
Solid Edge 3D CAD, part of Siemens Digital Industries, is integrated with Trayak's EcoDesigner, to offer similar LCA functions.