Purpose - Effective product life cycle management will save costs and resources and improve customer service. Seeks to present a simulation model of the complete life cycle of a batch of products undergoing breakdown and repair and to show the ability of the model to predict future waste arisings and cost savings. Design/methodology/approach - ARENA system simulation software is used for a novel application - a full life cycle of manufacture, use, repair and ultimate disposal. Two batches of products are compared: products with and without features which improve reliability. The number of replications for the Monte Carlo process can be calculated from the statistics of the model data. Findings - The model demonstrates the predicted flows of products through their life cycle. The software has in-built probability distributions that are not fully suitable for the problem modelled, requiring some artificial treatment, especially when using the delay function. The number of replications should be increased, requiring additional computer time. Practical implications - The model is potentially valuable for producers wishing to predict the effect on future costs or the risk of modifying designs. The method can also be used to assist waste management using the output graphs of disposed components or products; hence the economics of component remanufacture or reuse can be modelled. Originality/value - The paper presents the first known application of manufacturing system simulation software for modelling product life cycles. Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
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