Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Telephone, Phone, Design, Environment, Ethics, Energy, Law, Engineering

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2021/01/09

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Engineering Design Ethics for Phones

Engineering, just like other professions, are guided by ethics. Engineering ethics applicable for the design of phones include moral values such as elements of human welfare, autonomy, fairness, and privacy (Feng 207-220, Davis). For example, certain codes require that where there could be factors that can compromise public safety, it is important to disclose. Although standard regulations and legal could be in place, they might not be available or not applicable during the launch of the product. For example, not all countries regions impose stringent regulations since the systems could be weak or that they lack the capacity to formulate and implement such policies. There are also uncertainty of consequences during product designs especially when new technologies are concerned. A fault item like a phone emitting more than minimum required levels of radiations may cause a lot of harm if it finds its way into the market. Considering that millions of people can buy the phone, the harm could be enormous. The harm could be varied and could appear in form of environmental based such as pollution, economic losses due to its delicate nature, issues of quality, safety concerns such as magnetic radiation, or even interference with other communication systems (Gorp 24, MGHS). As such, a design engineer must always consider ethical concerns when he/she design a phone. Besides issues of public safety, the company might also incur heavy losses due to lose of customer loyalty in its products or costly lawsuits. It is therefore important to balance customer’s concerns and the long term interests of the company.

Life Cycle Analysis of a Phone

A typical LCA for a phone involves stages such as raw materials extraction, refining and processing of raw materials, assembling of phone parts, packaging and transportation, use, and disposing. However the initial stage of a phone is the design.
Design stage can influence many other subsequent activities (materials extraction, materials processing, manufacturing, packaging and transportation, use, and disposal) in many ways. The design stage of a phone can also have a great bearing on the environmental impacts of the phone. It is therefore important that any potential environmental impacts of a phone are minimized at the design stage. For example, in circumstances where certain parts of the phone might require the use of materials that pose a lot of negative environmental impact, it is advisable to look at alternatives before the actual manufacturing begin. Usually, the display unit of a phone can be made from either a liquid crystal display (LCD) or active-matrix organic light emitting diodes (AMOLED). LCDs contain mercury that is harmful to the environment and consumes a lot of power while AMOLED is free from mercury and consumes less power. At the design stage, and in consideration of environmental impacts, the choice of display unit might be in favor of LED.
Fabrication of a phone involves assembling of parts to make a complete phone. The fabrication process requires a lot of energy. Depending on the source of energy, the fabrication process can result in pollution. Besides energy efficiency measures to minimize amount of carbon emissions, there is also a need to seek alternative fuels if the objective is to reduce pollution. Carbon-based energy resources results in pollution since they emit a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that causes global warming and climate change. The impacts of climate change and global warming are well documented.
Most of the activities that centers on operation of a phone and that has environmental impact includes charging, cell and other parts. Parts that are often replaced due to the effect of wear and tear can pose a negative environmental impact. The same applies to batteries that might need to be replaced often because they are of poor quality. Charging itself also consumes a lot of energy and may result in negative environmental impact especially if the energy comes from fossil fuels (EPA). It is therefore important to ensure the phone manufactured is durable, produced of high quality batteries, and is energy efficient. Batteries should also be manufactured from toxicologically inert elements.
At the disposal stage, the phone can be either reused or recycled. If the phone is manufactured from materials that are not reusable, disposal would affect the environment in the long run (Soo 263-271). At the design stage, the most important thing is to design the phone to be made from materials that are recyclable. Some of the parts that can be recycled in an old phone include steel parts, plastics, circuit boards, copper, lead and other metals among others.
Phones are manufactured for sale and the larger the market the better. While all attempts should be made to make sure the produced phone is of the highest possible standard, the design should also consider the regulations and standards common in some countries. Most underdeveloped economies do not impose tough conditions on phone manufacturers. However, Canada market has additional regulations besides internationally accepted standards. To penetrate Canadian market, the design should incorporate features that would result in a phone that comply with Canadian regulations.

Works Cited

“Ethical and Environmental Considerations of Designers and Society”. MGHS, 2005. Web. 02 April 2015.
Davis, Janet. From Ethics to Values in the Design of Mobile PINC. 02 April 2015. Web. 02 April 2015.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Climate Change: Basic Information. EPA, 2014. Web. 02 April 2015.
Feng, Patrick. Rethinking technology, revitalizing ethics: Overcoming barriers to ethical design. Science and Engineering Ethics, 6.2(2000): 207-220.
Gorp, Anke. Ethical Issues in Engineering Design: Safety and Sustainability. 2005. Web. 02 April 2015.
Soo, Kie and Doolan Mathew. Recycling Mobile Phone Impact on Life Cycle Assessment. Procedia CIRP, 15(2014): 263-271.

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