How To Get Started With Sustainable Product Lifecycle Management
When it comes to being green, there’s certainly a business case for transforming your operations with sustainability in mind.
Consumers these days are an increasingly discerning bunch and they’re becoming ever-more interested in only doing business with those brands that are serious about the impact they have on the environment and which are transparent about their operations, telling all about the steps they’re taking to improve their green credentials.
When it comes to product development and manufacturing, it’s important to acknowledge that sustainability doesn’t just encompass the actual finished product… it also has to be applied to the entire supply chain, everything from design and production to product use and ultimate disposal at the end of the lifecycle.
So where do you begin with it all?
Knowledge is power, or so they say, so a good first step to take is to gain a deeper understanding of the environmental impact your goods and services are having. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can start making changes and improvements as and where required.
This is where a lifecycle sustainability assessment can prove particularly useful, helping you to work out what the carbon footprint of your supply chain is.
Every stage of the process will involve consumption of natural resources and inevitable emissions of some kind back into the environment. As such, it’s important to bear in mind how you use these resources, as well as the energy used and the release of waste substances throughout the entire assessment.
The design stage should be where your attention turns to first, as it’s thought that 80 per cent of the environmental impact of a product happens at this point. There are all sorts of eco-design benefits, ranging from cost savings and increased customer satisfaction to more effective marketing strategies and legislative and regulatory compliance.
What tools and techniques are available?
The good news is that there’s a lot of technology out there that can help you achieve your sustainable lifecycle ambitions.
The right ones for you and your brand will largely depend on what your overall goals are, whether you’re keen to reduce your carbon footprint (so designing for embedded carbon would be a good direction to take) or if you want to use 100 percent recyclable packaging (in which case you would design for recyclability and use mono materials for ease of separation at the point of disposal).
Additive manufacturing is one strategy for more sustainable product design and development, helping to simplify and refine the manufacturing processes. What’s great about this technique is that you can bring new design concepts to life quickly, whether you’re an entrepreneur or an already established large-scale brand. Every process along the way, from conception ideation to prototyping, is made more efficient, allowing designers to achieve their concepts – all with the use of a 3D printer.
What’s amazing about additive manufacturing is that you’re able to create really intricate designs and parts, which would usually be very costly to prototype – so it’s easier for smaller companies to bring their products to market… and easier for them to refine them.
From a sustainable perspective, additive manufacturing provides you with more potential for the eco-friendly design than subtractive manufacturing, which can be a more wasteful technique.
Since, with additive manufacturing, you only use those materials you need to make your product, you generate far less waste. And the overall process is quicker, so you’re saving on time and energy, as well.
Another tool you have at your disposal, of course, is PLM – a lifecycle management system that can really help you give the green credentials of your business a serious boost.
These systems can simplify the measurement and analysis of the impact of a product, including supply chain choices and production methods. Data is also made more visible through the entire lifecycle of a product, with this information then easily passed over to consumers and stakeholders to improve transparency.
You’ll also find that the supply chain becomes far more transparent when you’re using PLM tools, as well, so you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to discover new more eco-friendly suppliers when sourcing raw product materials.
Sustainability is also all about people’s health and wellbeing, and focusing on those within your business, who keep the proverbial cogs turning. Bringing everything together through PLM helps to support your team in their jobs by managing their time more effectively through the use of a digital assistant.
This in turn reduces the amount of admin required, allowing members of staff to focus on what they’re actually there to do, reducing burnout and increasing efficiency and productivity.
If you’d like to find out more about how PLM can help you become more sustainable in 2022 and beyond, get in touch with the Bombyx team today!