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Volume 11, Number 5, September 2015 - Editorial - p 405



In order to meet the demand of increasing population with fast depleting resources of the world and looking to the alarming rate of degradation of Earth’s environment, emphasis has now shifted to the concern for developing environment friendly products, systems and services [1-5]. The urgency of this requirement arose from the consideration that we are consuming resources at a much faster rate while generating tremendous waste at the same time, leading to environmental pollution at a very fast rate, which may even threaten the existence of humanity on the Earth. We have already wasted considerable amount of Earth’s resources and spoiled its pristine environment. Realizing the importance of the subject, the Editor in 1996 initiated steps to popularize the concept of performability engineering by emphasizing the importance of clean production [1] so that we conserve resources and use minimum resources and optimize the production process while minimizing waste and environmental pollution. We also need to dematerialize the production process and make use of recycling, reuse and remanufacturing and use minimum energy and maximize the performance in terms of quality, reliability and safety.

This journal (IJPE), in fact, was started a decade back with the objective of invigorating the process of designing systems, products and services that are sustainable. Although much progress has been attained but still much is desired to be achieved in this direction. The main difficulty still remains and that is how to define and assess what should be called as a sustainable system, product or service. There is not much available in the literature which tells a designer what attributes be used to systematically and analytically obtain a sustainable design or for comparing different sustainable designs. Please see also a book review on page 517 of this issue.

Obviously, a sustainable product, system or service should be created using minimum material (or what is termed as the process of dematerialization) so that we consume less and less resources (since the world population is increasing and there should be enough resources left for the future generations to share them). A sustainable product, system or service should also consume lesser and lesser energy during its manufacture, operation, and disposal or over its entire life time.

A sustainable product, system or service in addition to above requirements, should be safe and reliable and should create minimum wastages of any kind during its manufacture or operation. Only then we can call a product, system or service sustainable.

We also know that we cannot achieve these attributes unless we can assess the effectiveness of the above measures for achieving sustainability. Sustainability, otherwise, would remain an abstract concept. We also know that we already have sufficient tools to measure and assess various attributes of a sustainable product, system or service as detailed out above in part but we do not have a way to integrate them to come to a single figure of merit that may represent the sustainability of a product, system or service. The concept of performability as introduced in the inaugural Editorial of this journal was put forward based on the composite attribute of dependability and sustainability. As of today, dependability can be measured and assessed but we do not have any convincing measure to assess the attribute of sustainability. We need to find that/ later on the question of integrating the attributes of performance of a product, system or service over its entire life cycle.

We have specialists or experts working on a part of the problem of performance of a product, system or service (for example, technical performance can be specified in terms of dependability which in turn is a composite attribute and can be derived from other attributes) but none seems to know how we can integrate dependability with sustainability entailing all considerations to achieve a single figure of merit for the purpose of comparing performance, numerically. If we achieve this feat, then only we would be able to specify performability of a product, system or service, numerically and design it in a product, system or service, or even compare the performability of different products quantitatively. Till then, it will remain an abstract subject. We have a large amount of literature available on sustainability but can we say that such and such product is sustainable and has such and such a figure for sustainability. The answer is in negative. 

I would like to invite the attention of researchers world over to overcome this shortcoming in the state of the art.  IJPE would welcome any contribution that moves the state-of-art to next higher level of achievement towards this goal.

Lastly, I would like to draw the attention of our readers to the update provided on the next page (p.406) of this issue which speaks volumes about this journal’s achievements over a decade since it was launched in July 2005. I thank the contributors to this journal who kept me busy and well-informed on the subject. I also like to thank reviewers who helped us in the task of selecting good papers and for maintaining high standards of the journal over this period.

[1].    Misra, K.B. Clean Production: Environmental and Economic Perspectives, 1996, Springer Verlag, Heidelberg.

[2].    Misra, K.B. Inaugural Editorial. International Journal of Performability Engineering, July 2005; 1(1): 1-3.

[3].    Misra, K.B. Handbook of Performability Engineering. 2008, Springer Verlag, London

[4].    Misra, K.B. Sustainable Designs of Products and Systems: A Possibility, International Journal of Performability Engineering, 2013, 9(2): 175-190.

[5].   Misra, K.B. Performability to Lead towards Sustainability, Modern Manufacturing India, 2013: 34-36.

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