Visual Analytics Tools for Sustainable Lifecycle Design: Current Status, Challenges, and Future Opportunities

Devarajan Ramanujan, W.Z. Bernstein, Senthil K. Chandrasegaran, Karthik Ramani

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The rapid rise in technologies for data collection has created an unmatched opportunity to advance the use of data-rich tools for lifecycle decision-making. However, the usefulness of these technologies is limited by the ability to translate lifecycle data into actionable insights for human decision-makers. This is especially true in the case of sustainable lifecycle design (SLD), as the assessment of environmental impacts, and the feasibility of making corresponding design changes, often relies on human expertise and intuition. Supporting human sensemaking in SLD requires the use of both data-driven and userdriven methods while exploring lifecycle data. A promising approach for combining the two is through the use of visual analytics (VA) tools. Such tools can leverage the ability of computer-based tools to gather, process, and summarize data along with the ability of human experts to guide analyses through domain knowledge or data-driven insight. In this paper, we review previous research that has created VA tools in SLD. We also highlight existing challenges and future opportunities for such tools in different lifecycle stages design, manufacturing, distribution and supply chain, use-phase, end-of-life (EoL), as well as life cycle assessment (LCA). Our review shows that while the number of VA tools in SLD is relatively small, researchers are increasingly focusing on the subject matter. Our review also suggests that VA tools can address existing challenges in SLD and that significant future opportunities exist.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111415
JournalJournal of Mechanical Design, Transactions of the ASME
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

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