Harrison Kim research team awarded the John Deere Supplier Innovation Award
Professor Harrison Kim and his research team were awarded the John Deere Supplier Innovation Award for their Design for Environment and Sustainability project.
Six years ago, Deere initiated collaborative research effort with Professor Harrison Kim looking to find ways to incorporate sustainability into their product design and manufacturing.
Unlike analyzing the fuel economy of a car, Kim described how it is difficult to analyze complex machines, such as Deere’s products, in the context of sustainability.
“There is no well-defined structure to evaluate the sustainability and performance, and it was very difficult because of the nature of the products,” Kim said.
These machines are complex because of their size, scale, and variability in the way they are used. They are used in many different environments, locations, under different regulations, and are typically used for a longer period of time than something like a car.
Kim’s goal was to develop a way to analyze these complex machines’ performances similar to the way cars are evaluated for fuel economy.
Using his expertise in the fields of design, sustainability, and systems engineering, Kim and a team of undergraduate and graduate students from his Enterprise Systems Optimization Lab began to work on this problem.
“To me, it was very interesting because I’ve done some work in consumer electronics and small-scale products, but now this was a chance to do this on a much bigger scale,” Kim said.
Eventually, they developed a methodology that characterizes the environmental sustainability and performance of very complex machines in a very efficient way.
At first, it would take three to six months to complete a set of analyses for one set of machines. Over time, they have optimized this process so that it only takes a few hours.
“We developed different tools and an interface that can automate this process,” Kim explained. “Instead of going through this laborious, exhaustive process of collecting data and all these things, now we just put in the product data and it just does it.”
The group is the first from a university to be recognized by Deere for this award. Previously, the award had only been given to industry partners.
“It’s a lot of fun, and we just renewed for another year,” Kim said. “It’s been a great run.”