Circular economy and PLM – enabling companies make the switch

April 11, 2017

The circular economy concept is becoming increasingly popular among companies looking to boost both their sustainability and profitability. At TechniaTranscat, we are looking into developing the PLM tools that will enable companies to switch to a fully circular approach. 

The circular economy is a big break from the old linear model based on constantly using fresh raw materials to make new products and then disposing of them once they're no longer needed.

Beyond “going green”

A circular model aims to create a never-ending cycle where materials are either regenerated or reused to minimize a company's impact on the environment. Today, the concept goes well beyond just "going green," as business leaders increasingly view a circular model as the best way to ensure long-term profitability at a time when natural resources get more scarce.

PLM systems should serve as a major help for companies looking to switch to a circular model. We see so many business incentives for companies to go circular, and we want to enable them to do so, by offering a tool that provides a holistic approach towards this new business model.

Make better decisions

We strongly believe a PLM system can be the best solution for managing a product's lifecycle in a circular way, and we are now looking into developing new solutions that will make that a reality. For instance, that could include a full overview over which materials are reusable to help companies make better decisions at an earlier stage of the manufacturing process.

To come up with the best solutions possible, we have initiated cooperation with both companies and certification institutions to understand which features will best support a circular model. We know companies are often making the switch gradually, and we want to create modules that will help them schedule that work in the most efficient way possible. That's why we are collaborating with industry professionals.

PLM to support a circular business model

We are also involved in a research project with Chalmers University of Technology and gathering requirements from throughout Sweden and Europe to better understand what is needed to make a PLM system that fully supports a circular business model.

Linn Lindfred and Isa Nordeld from Chalmers University of Technology are writing a thesis in cooperation with us at TechniaTranscat on how to make it easier for companies to move from a linear to a circular business model.

They examine different stages of the product lifecycle (eg. design, manufacturing, distribution, sale and recycling) that are critical in the transition and how IT systems, primarily PLM, can make it easier for the challenges that companies with circular ambitions face.

"IT systems have the potential to help companies create circular business models, but no company offers the service in a satisfactory manner today", says Linn.

This is an exciting development in the world of PLM. Circular thinking is becoming much more widespread among legislators and major corporations, and is now high on the agenda for many executives.

We want to be the enablers to fully make the switch.

 

For more information about the circular economy, visit the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

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Writers: Hannes Lindfred and Alessandro Passaro

Hannes has more than 5 years experience in Fashion & Textile product development. He currently works as a Business Consultant & Project Manager in the Consumer & Retail Team at TechniaTranscat. He believes new sustainable materials and design processes will revolutionize the way we produce.

 hannes.lindfred@techniatranscat.com

 Hannes' LinkedIn Profile

Alessandro has more than 5 years experience in Strategy Consulting and Supply Chain transformation. He currently works as Business Consultant & Project Manager in the Consumer & Retail Team at TechniaTranscat. He is a strong advocate for the need of new economic paradigms.

 alessandro.passaro@techniatranscat.com

 Alessandro's LinkedIn Profile

What is Circular Economy?

A circular economy is restorative and regenerative by design, and aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times. The concept distinguishes between technical and biological cycles.

As envisioned by the originators, a circular economy is a continuous positive development cycle that preserves and enhances natural capital, optimises resource yields, and minimises system risks by managing finite stocks and renewable flows. It works effectively at every scale.

Source: https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-economy/overview/concept