The work also promises to open up a new area of research in a field known as scheduling.
More than 1.5 billion pounds of electronic equipment is processed every year in the United States, and the quantity of discarded personal computers is expected to rise substantially over the coming decade.
While these products contain valuable materials, including copper, aluminum and steel, they also harbor hazardous substances such as lead.
Although certain recycling centers specialize in electronic products, there is no software designed for the efficient scheduling of jobs within electronics recycling plants. Such scheduling methods are commonly used to improve production in manufacturing plants, but the goals are different for recycling applications, said Julie Ann Stuart, an assistant professor of industrial engineering at Purdue.
She has developed a method for improving the efficiency of electronics recycling by better managing the flow of incoming products from storage to disassembly.
"In recycling you have a different objective when you schedule jobs than you do in manufacturing, and you need different key measurements to achieve that objective," Stuart said. "We created the key measurements, and we identified the new objective, which may open up an area of research for a whole new class of scheduling problems."
Findings about the new approach are detailed in a paper appearing this month in the IEEE Transactions on Electronics Packaging Manufacturing, published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Scheduling is a field in which researchers develop methods to improve efficiency by carefully timing the sequence of tasks in an operation, such as a manufacturing pr
Contact: Emil Venere