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Implementation of environmental considerations in product development processes – the process of the research project Christina Grann Myrdal Department of Development and Planning. The Process of investigation

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Implementation of environmental considerations in product development processes – the process of the research projectChristina Grann MyrdalDepartment of Development and Planning

The Process of investigation

The investigation of how ecodesign can be integrated in the case company is divided into four analyses. Through the four analyses the focus is narrowed down based on the findings in each analysis.

The four levels are:

Objectives

When developing products, product developers have a large influence on a product’s life cycle, e.g. on how the product is produced and which materials can be used.

To implement ecodesign, management support is important to ensure the overall structures but also a bottom-up approach is necessary. The case company has both support from management and employees, but to implement ecodesign, further initiatives must be made. The main research question for the PhD study is:

How is it possible to improve existing procedures for ecodesign at the case company?

Ecodesign

1. Analysis: The setting

– Company premises

Introduction

The point of departure for the research project is:

How can environmental considerations be implemented in Product Development Processes?

There are a number of ways to understand and work with this problem and a lot of research has already been made in the area. The main focus in the research project is an empirical investigation of the implementation of environmental considerations in a Danish case company Grundfos.

2. Analysis: Existing procedures

– Product development processes

The product range

Grundfos, Bjerringbro, Denmark

3. Analysis: Creating new procedures and social networks – Workshops

4. Analysis: Practical support and development

– Ecodesign tools

A-labelled circulation pumps

The purpose of investigating the case company’s

premises for ecodesignis to base the implementa-

tion of ecodesign on existing structures as well as

on other possibilities in the organisation.

The premises are found based on company

documents and through meetings and

interviews with employees at the case

company. Based on the investigation, a

model of the premises is developed.

  • The outline of premises for ecodesign highlighted the need for motivation, awareness, ecodesign tools, and social networks in order to integrate ecodesign.

  • Interaction about ecodesign is highlighted as important for the imple-

  • mentation of ecodesign at the case company, and some of the

  • relevant conclusions are:

    • To provide the necessary knowledge and organisational learning

    • Motivate the product developers through participation

    • Support tool development and appropriation

    • Anchor ecodesign in product development

1. Analysis

The purpose of investigating the case

company’s product development processes

is to outline how environmental aspects are

already handled in the case company.

Furthermore, the purpose is to investigate

how ecodesign can be implemented further

in the existing processes.

  • The existing procedures:

  • Reducing material use

  • Increasing the energy efficiency of products in the use phase

  • Static procedures

2. Analysis

  • Addition to the existing procedures:

  • Tools to support both the existing procedures and other focus areas

  • Interaction about ecodesign

  • Dynamic procedures

Premises for ecodesign

The purpose of integrating ecodesign through

workshops is to ensure an interaction between

different functions in the case company and thereby

develop more environmentally friendly products

where the whole life cycle of the products are

considered.

Based on the two previous investigations, the

premises and the product development

processes, four types of workshops are

suggested for the case company.

3. Analysis

The purpose with the four analyses is to investigate

the development of a specific tool and the

adjustment to the case company’s settings.

The selected tool was a spiderweb diagram with

specific defined parameters for the product

developers to use and evaluate the products

accordingly.

The process showed that when developing and adjusting tools for a company, the work effort in developing the tools should be adjusted according to the complexity of the decisions the product developers must take.

4. Analysis

Conclusions

Through a combination of workshops and tools it is possible to implement ecodesign in case company based on the settings of the company. However, to fully integrate ecodesign it will still require a change of procedures and the mindset of product developers.

The further work

The results of the investigations are company specific and to determine if the method of implementing ecodesign in the case company is applicable in general, it could be tested in other companies.

Acknowledgement

Many thanks to the product developers who participated in this study, especially those who participated in the discussions and testing of different aspects of the four analyses.

December 2009