Design for Environment at Apple Computer: A Case Study of the ...
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Design for Environment at Apple Computer:
A Case Study of the Power Macintosh 7200
Presented at the May 1996 International Symposium on Electronics & the Environment
in Dallas, Texas. Sponsored by The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers,
Inc., The IEEE Environment, Health and Safety Committee of the Technical Activities
Apple Computer, Inc. has begun to practice Design for Environment as part of new
product development, with the goal of incorporating beneficial environmental attributes
into Apple's products and synthesizing them with other requirements such as cost and
manufacturability. This case study describes environmental performance improvements
achieved in the new Power Macintosh 7200 desktop product which was released in the
summer of 1995 to replace the Power Macintosh 7100.
The product development team introduced a number of innovations that were both
economically and environmentally beneficial, including a 25% decrease in average power
consumption and a modular design that simplifies re-configuration, facilitates servicing,
and speeds disassembly. This design effort demonstrated that addressing environmental
objectives is generally synergistic with the fundamental product requirements--cost,
manufacturability, ease of service, and functional performance.
As a result of this case study, a number of design enhancements were identified that could
measurably improve the performance of future desktop products. In addition, specific
steps were recommended to help incorporate the systematic practice of Design for
Environment into Apple's new product development process.
With the increasing importance of environmental attributes in consumer products, Apple
Computer has made a transition from viewing environmental performance as a
compliance issue to viewing it as a customer requirements issue. Environmental factors
must now be considered as an integral part of business decision-making at both the
strategic planning level and the day-to-day operating level.
Having recognized this imperative, Apple is working toward developing a greater
awareness of the environmental attributes of its products, and channeling this awareness
into the new product development process. The potential benefits of environmental
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performance improvements include not only greater customer satisfaction, but also
improved product line profitability through innovations in materials management,
manufacturing, and asset recovery.
Apple's product development teams have already recognized these opportunities, and
many important environmental performance improvements have been introduced in recent
years. However, past environmental performance improvements have not been
implemented in a systematic way that enables improvements to be leveraged across
Apple's Environmental Technologies and Strategies Group is responsible for
consolidating Apple's Design for Environment (DFE) capabilities and assuring that DFE
guidelines and metrics are incorporated into new product development. Decision Focus
Incorporated (DFI) was retained to support their efforts, and is helping to develop
methods and tools for measuring and improving the environmental performance of Apple
To better understand its DFE practices and performance, Apple conducted a review of
the Power Macintosh 7200 central processing unit (CPU) which was released in August
1995. The goals of this case study were to:
l Quantify the extent to which specific product features contribute toward
environmental attributes such as recyclability and resource conservation, as well as
other traditional performance attributes such as ease of service and ease of
l Identify areas where additional cost-effective environmentally-beneficial
improvements may be possible
l Recommend how the lessons learned with this product might be leveraged in future
or on going product development efforts
It should be noted that the DFE review of the Power Macintosh 7200 CPU focused
primarily on the environmental performance attributes of the finished product itself, and
not on the processes employed by vendors and raw material suppliers to manufacture and
deliver the materials and subassemblies that are incorporated into the product. Note also
that other system components such as a monitor, a keyboard and mouse, and
intermediate and final packaging were not included in this review.
The DFE review of the Power Macintosh 7200 CPU was conducted through four basic
1. Determination of relevant product performance attributes. There are many
environmental and non-environmental dimensions of product performance.
However, due to the environmental focus of this review, it was necessary to limit
the range of attributes considered to those that are either direct indicators of or
strongly correlated with environmental performance. Key environmental
performance attributes considered include:
¡ energy conservation
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¡ ease of disassembly and separation of materials
¡ recyclability of components and materials
¡ the presence and nature of banned, restricted, toxic or hazardous
constituents (e.g. brominated compounds)
¡ material conservation
Key non-environmental performance attributes considered that are strongly
correlated with environmental performance include:
¡ ease of assembly
¡ ease of service
¡ product economics
2. Selection of relevant metrics for each performance attribute. To the extent feasible
with available data, quantitative metrics were sought that provide a measurement
of the extent to which the product embodies each of the above attributes.
3. Information gathering to support the assessment. Information concerning product
characteristics and design decisions was gathered through interviews with key
members of the development team, supplemented by additional data obtained from
vendors and outside sources. It should be noted that the information used for this
DFE review was obtained after most of the design decisions had been made and
just prior to manufacturing ramp-up.
4. Assessment of product performance using the selected metrics. The information
and data gathered in step #3 were interpreted and synthesized with respect to the
selected performance attributes. Where data were available, metrics were
calculated and compared against either the previous generation product (7100
CPU) or relevant benchmarks.
Importance of Energy Conservation
In the computer industry, the most visible and best-understood in terms of environmental
performance is a computer's energy conservation characteristics (typically expressed as
energy consumption during operation). There are several reasons why energy
conservation is and will continue to be an important environmental indicator.
l Though its successful Energy Star program, The United States Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) has established de facto standards for energy
conservation that are embraced by Apple and other major manufacturers. The
Energy Star logo has become an effective marketing tool, even in European
countries, and is now required for all U.S. Federal Government procurement.
l The environmental benefits of energy conservation are easy for the public to
understand. According to EPA, every kilowatt-hour of electricity not used prevents
the emission of 680 g. of CO2, 5.8 g. of SO2 and 2.5 g. of NOx. This translates into
several tons of reduced emissions over the lifetime of an Energy Star-compliant
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l Energy conservation results directly in operating cost reduction, and generally
results in a quieter-running, more efficiently-designed machine.
However, it is important to recognize that an energy-efficient computer is not necessarily
a "green" computer -- this is a misconception commonly expressed in the news media.
There are many other aspects of product performance that determine the environmental
soundness of a particular design, including the specific attributes mentioned above.
III. Product Overview
The overarching market requirement for the 7200 development team was to design a low
cost, PowerPC-based desktop computer on the Macintosh platform, with multiple
The lower cost of manufacturing criterion was specified as a product cost "less than the
Power Macintosh 7100 CPU and approximately equal to the cost of a Power Macintosh
6100 CPU." The actual Apple product cost will fall approximately 15-20% below a
similarly configured 7100 CPU and approximately 5% above a comparable 6100 CPU.
The 7200 enclosure was designed as a replacement for the 7100 sheet metal enclosure.
The design effort incorporated a number of innovations, including:
l The "outrigger" chassis support which assures both safety and ease of access for
l The quick-latch connections that secure the enclosure top to the enclosure bottom.
l The snap-in connections that connect the floppy and hard drives to the chassis.
l Ease of access to the logic board.
The innovations listed above are a consequence of the goals that guided the design team.
Using the characteristics of the 7100 enclosure as a reference, the enclosure design team's
goals for the 7200 were:
l Design a lower cost enclosure. It is estimated that the new enclosure will cost
about 25% less than the 7100 enclosure.
l Design for increased serviceability.
l Design for increased manufacturability.
l Design for improved configurability to accommodate changing market and
customer requirements such as higher capacity hard drives, more memory, etc. and
to increase product configuration flexibility on the manufacturing line.
l Design for improved EMI performance.
l Design for improved thermal characteristics.
Note that Design for Environment goals were not explicitly included, but were addressed
by the development team as an adjunct to their primary goals.
For the logic board and other electrical systems, the design goals in order of priority
l Low cost (as defined above).
l Inclusion of the basic feature set of the Macintosh platform (e.g. I/O options, etc.).
l Improved system performance relative to the 7100.
l Expansion capabilities, including expansion slots for PCI, DRAM, and video RAM,
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and multiple secondary storage devices--hard drive, floppy drive, CD-ROM, and an
open bay for a consumer designated storage device.
The design team explicitly considered environmental design factors to the extent
necessary in order to
a. meet Energy Star power consumption criteria, and
b. position the product for sales into the home market by designing a quieter running
In the future, as Apple's DFE practice matures, it is expected that additional
environmental criteria will be included explicitly in new product requirements.
IV. Summary of Environmental Performance
For purposes of this study, the Power Macintosh 7200 CPU's environmental performance
was measured with respect to nine major performance attributes. In addition, the study
reviewed the product's performance with respect to three major non-environmental
attributes which are strongly correlated with environmental performance--ease of
assembly (manufacturability), ease of service (serviceability) and product economics
(cost). Within each of these twelve performance attributes, specific metrics were selected
and data were collected to the extent feasible. Table 1 characterizes the overall product
performance, relative to the 7100 CPU where appropriate, in terms of the key metrics or
features associated with each attribute.
It should be noted that the present analysis is mainly focused upon the "downstream"
product performance during customer use and at end-of-life. It does not address an
important dimension of product performance over the full life-cycle--namely, the
"upstream" environmental impacts associated with the fabrication, transport and assembly
of materials and components that comprise the finished products.
Upstream impacts include air emissions, solid and hazardous wastes, and consumption of
resources including materials, energy, and water. While upstream information is
important in determining the overall environmental profile of a product, it was
deliberately excluded from the scope of this study for two reasons:
l Reliable data are difficult to obtain and the range of uncertainty is typically large.
l The product development team did not have access to this type of information in
the course of their decision-making.
Therefore, the following performance evaluation focused upon those environmental
performance issues over which the team had both visibility and control. The only
performance category in Table 1 that corresponds to upstream impacts is Material
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Table 1: Summary of Environmental Performance
Attribute Performance Assessment
Energy Star Compliance; 25% less power consumption. Supports all 4
monitor power modes of DPMS. Unique user interface for customized
Ease of Simplified fastening systems should speed disassembly (actual time has
Disassembly not been measured against the 7100).
100% of large plastic parts (>25 grams) are marked for sorting.
Separability Integral finishes and labels are utilized, requiring no separation (except
for the product logo).
At least 85% of enclosure materials are recyclable. 100% of the sheet
metal components are recyclable without the need for paint stripping
Recyclability or coating removal. At least 95% by weight of the engineering
thermoplastics used in the enclosure are recyclable using existing
The modular design allows easy installation of hardware upgrades such
Upgradability as expansion cards, additional memory, and increased capacity or
enhanced performance of fixed storage devices.
Nickel based paints were eliminated, reducing cost and ending the use
of an undesirable substance. The external plastic parts contain no flame
retardants. Heavy metal contaminants such as mercury or beryllium
were avoided. Alkaline dry cell batteries on the logic board are not a
significant environmental concern.
Weight is approximately 12% less than that of a comparable 7100
Material The number of mother board layers was reduced from 6 to 4--reducing
Conservation mass by about 33%. Board manufacturing yield was increased by
eliminating unnecessary copper etching. The engineering
thermoplastics in the enclosure contain no recycled resins.
About 66% of components are compatible across the PowerPC
Common product line. A common API for power management is compatible
Components both across the new generation desktop product line and with
Design has less complexity, utilizes latches and snap-in connections,
and uses 50% fewer screws. The product is reconfigurable on the
No specialized tools are required. Top half of the chassis can be
propped up with a safety latch allowing quick, easy access to the logic
Ease of Service
board. Modular design allows for rapid and simple replacement of
Power Macintosh 7200 CPU product cost is projected to fall
approximately 15-20% below a similarly configured 7100 CPU and
approximately 5% above a comparable 6100 CPU.
V. Implications of Findings
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While assessing environmental performance is useful, additional insights can be gained by
examining the implications of specific design decisions. The environmental performance
implications of significant Power Macintosh 7200 design decisions are summarized in
Table 2: Performance Implications of Design Decisions
Design Decision Performance Benefits (Costs)
Eliminated painting, reduced number of parts, reduced cost,
Integral ABS top cover
Heat-staked metal EMI Ease of assembly; low cost, quick connections (requires
shields extra step for material separation)
Use of quick release
Ease of service, disassembly, assembly, upgradability
Separation of I/O back Improved material conservation, reduced cost (increases part
plate into two pieces count)
Outrigger device for Ease of service, disassembly, design robustness (requires the
servicing use of new components)
Ease of service, upgrade, expansion, disassembly, assembly,
and reuse; improved configurability.
Improved material conservation - reduced board weight and
use of raw materials
Increased manufacturing yields, decreased use of etching
Blank board areas not
chemicals, reduced EMI. (Increases the weight of the non-
functional portion of the logic board).
Reduced part cost and energy consumption - allowed for
video circuitry power down (DPMS); improved design
robustness. (Increases design costs)
increased low power efficiency, reduced heat generation,
Efficient Power Supply
improved design robustness (increases design costs)
Low power CMOS
Reduced energy consumption. (marginally increases costs)
Reduced microprocessor energy consumption during low
Sparky controller chip demand periods. (Increases design costs; marginal increase in
Power management Improved ease of use and customer configurability user
software user interface interface (Increases design costs)
Implementation of Improved design robustness and potential for power savings
common API features to be utilized by the user
The above-cited performance improvements in the Power Macintosh 7200 CPU were
achieved through informal initiatives on the part of the design teams. With a more
systematic DFE effort and more explicit design goals, it will be possible to achieve even
greater improvements in future product development efforts. Table 3 lists the main areas
for potential improvement that were noted during discussions with the development team
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Table 3: Potential Design Improvements by Performance Attribute
Attribute Potential Design Improvements
Enable power-down of non-processor ASICs and independent power-
down of idle ASIC cells(already a design goal). A new I/O controller
design that will power down the SCSI bus when the hard drive has
spun down (already a design goal). Specification of a hard drive that is
designed to allow more power-down/power-up cycles.
Ease of Disassembly times should be measured relative to industry
Disassembly benchmarks. Minimize the use of screws.
Fastening methods to be avoided include incompatible adhesives and
heat staking between non-compatible parts.
Potential recovery, refurbishment, remanufacture and re-use of
components should be considered.
The pros and cons of intermediate packaging recycling with vendors
Recyclability should be evaluated. Compatible adhesives or other means of
attachment should be investigated.
Product users should be able to upgrade drives. Enabling processor
upgrade without entire board swap.
To the extent possible, incorporate process related issues and vendor
information that details the hazardous constituents of components and
Material Materials with increased recycled content can be sought, especially for
Conservation internal, non-visible parts.
Design Coordinate strategic environmental decisions across all Apple
Minimize part count.
If screws are necessary, use uniform screw-types.
Detailed product cost data was not available for review.
VI. Next Steps
The Power Macintosh 7200 case study has demonstrated that enhancement of
environmental performance can be synergistic with improvements in cost and functional
performance, resulting in a better-differentiated, higher-quality product. In the future,
environmental performance improvements can be encouraged through the adoption of
explicit design goals, and through a more systematic integration of DFE methodology
into Apple's new product development process. In the long run, DFE should become a
routine part of new development, just as Design for Reliability is today.
The following are additional steps that Apple is considering to support the development
and application of DFE skills, technologies and practices within the product development
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l Develop an understanding of best design practices used by other electronics firms
that are committed to improving environmental performance.
l Develop a standardized set of environmental performance metrics whereby product
development teams can set objectives and measure improvement.
l Review existing DFE practices at Apple and lessons learned from past efforts.
Build on this knowledge base to develop a set of DFE guidelines that address
various aspects of Apple product design and encompass the full product life cycle.
l Develop performance assessment and decision support tools that facilitate DFE
and are well integrated with the existing tool suite.
l Work with Apple suppliers to develop a clearer understanding of the environmental
attributes of components and associated upstream operations.
l Extend Apple's product development process to explicitly consider DFE issues,
particularly with regard to recovery, reuse and recycling of obsolete or discarded
l Identify eco-labeling requirements early in the design process and, to the extent
possible, incorporate them into the product requirements document.
Battelle Memorial Institute
505 King Avenue
Columbus, OH 43201 USA
Decision Focus Incorporated
650 Castro St., Suite 300
Mountain View, CA 94041 USA
Stan Roberts and Dani Tsuda, Apple Computer, Inc.
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014 USA
The authors wish to thank the Power Macintosh 7200 design team, and especially Dale
Adams, Bill De Meulenaere, Mike Dhuey, and Mark Pontarelli for their assistance in the
preparation of this paper.
1996 Apple Computer, Inc.
Apple, the Apple logo, and Power Macintosh are registered trademarks of Apple
VIII. Glossary of Acronyms