ECODESIGN-Toolbox for Green Product Concepts - Method development for sustainable product design
Raising the productivity as well as the quality is usually the main driver for companies to consider optimization tasks for their products. Experiences achieved with companies and products show that the focus on environmental product improvement is usually too tight or that sustainable product improvements are applied to take corrective action. Often, a complete Life Cycle Thinking is missing. Integration of environmental aspects into the product development process is too time-consuming and cost intensive for many small and medium sized enterprises. Practicable and easy to use solutions are needed. Therefore a methodology which facilitates a systematic product description and evaluation of the resulting environmental impact has been developed in this project. Based on the evaluation optimization strategies for products and processes can be identified.
The project aimed at developing a systematic approach for sustainable product development in cooperation with partners from industry. The approach should be specified to the needs of small and medium sized enterprises and the developed methodology should be applicable for different kinds of companies and branches.
In addition, the methodology for sustainable product development considering the whole life cycle of a product should be combined with a social and environmental conscious production.
The methodology should be applied to three different product examples. Innovative product concepts, viz. Green Product Concepts should be derived for these products by using this methodology.
Environmental assessment tools evaluate the environmental performance of products with different complexity and different integrity. What is missing currently is the binding element between gaining results and implementing appropriate optimization strategies. How can the environmental performance of the product be improved? Where should we start? How can the design and production of the product be influenced? The ECODESIGN Toolbox consists of several methodical approaches which have been adapted and linked to a consistent six step procedure.
For this a six step approach was developed, the so called "ECODESIGN Toolbox for Green Product Concepts". The ECODESIGN Toolbox includes tools for
- Product description
- Environmental product analysis
- Stakeholder analysis
- Process analysis
- Generation of product and process improvement strategies
- Evaluation and selection of improvement strategies for Green Product Concepts
The ECODESIGN Toolbox for Green Product Concepts - a six step procedure - has been developed and the practicability of the method has been successfully tested within three companies and their products. The considered product examples were: a golf swing analyzer, an injection moulding machine and a digital voice recorder.
Based on the results of the environmental evaluation through the whole life cycle as well as the stakeholder analysis and process analysis specific improvement strategies for the considered products have been derived.
The application of the Toolbox allows systematic collection of the product characteristics as well as determining the life cycle phase with the highest environmental impact.
Stakeholder requirements, e.g. customers or legal requirements should be included into product improvement processes and shall facilitate sustainable products on the market.
The mergence of ECODESIGN Tools with the Holistic Process Optimization (HPO) allows the optimization of the whole product and process system. The considered case studies of the industry partners show that the systematic approach of the ECODESIGN Toolbox works as a driver for innovation and detects potentials for reduction of resource consumption as well as costs, waste, emissions and energy.
The Green Product Concepts have already partly been realized. Within the recent product model of the digital voice recorder launched on the market in March 2007 by PHILIPS, selected improvement ideas derived from the project have been implemented.
The project gave important input for the development of the golf swing analyzer. The improvement ideas for the product design as well as the production will be integrated in the continuing development process and further integration of environmental aspects into product development is foreseen at ABATEC Electronic AG.
An important result for ENGEL Austria GmbH was the ability to work with energy ratios during product development. Tools which were able to predict the energy demand of the machine should inform their customers about the expected energy demand of the machines. Based on the results of the environmental analysis important input for further projects has been derived.
A.o. Univ. Prof. DI. Dr. techn. Wolfgang Wimmer
Institut für Konstruktionswissenschaften und technische Logistik
Technische Universität Wien
- DI Maria Huber
- Dr. DI Peter Judmaier
- DI Rainer Pamminger
Project or cooperation partner
- Profactor Produktionsforschungs GmbH
DI Stefan Herzer
- KERP Consulting
DI (FH) Ernst Luckner
DI (FH) Marek Stachura
- ABATEC Electronic AG
- ENGEL Austria GmbH
DI Michael Bauer
- PHILIPS Speech Processing
DI Ratko Grab
TU Wien, Institut für Konstruktionswissenschaften
Umweltgerechte Produktgestaltung / ECODESIGN
Tel.: +43 1 5880 30751
Fax: +43 1 58801 30799