Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 2 - RESCOM (Resource Conservative Manufacturing- transforming waste into high value resource through closed-loop product systems)

Project Context and Objectives:
Closed-loop manufacturing systems (also referred in this document as circular economy systems) are viewed as a solution to the problem of resource scarcity. Nevertheless, despite a large amount of research in this area, there is no common understanding of the key enablers, which in turn hinders their successful adoption by business (OEMs) and society (consumers) in practice.

The main objective of the ResCoM project is to develop an innovative and practical framework, supported by a lifecycle management software platform for the industrial implementation of closed-loop manufacturing systems.

Today, the most common strategy for closing the loop is the recycling of manufactured products for material recovery. Recycling in this context is well established in specific manufacturing sectors such as consumer electronics, textiles, paper or metals. It has a clear environmental impact as it reduces landfills and provides a source of valuable raw materials, acquired with minimised environmental burden. However, material losses are significant even at high recycling rates (for instance, recycling the drinks packaging aluminium results in 15-20 % loss of material as dross) and therefore, recycling cannot be the only solution. In addition it does not address fully the problem of resource conservation since a) significant efforts and enormous amount of energy are required in sorting, separating, re-melting and reprocessing the recycled materials and b) up to 85% of the manufacturing value of a product is associated with labour, energy and equipment (and not raw materials), which is lost as recycling shreds the product in an attempt to recover only the material value.

ResCoM aims to leverage the potential of converting the tangible and intangible waste into a highly valuable resource, focusing on retaining EOL products or components and putting them back into the value chain through remanufacturing or reuse (i.e. multiple lifecycles).

The economic, environmental and strategic benefits of closed-loop product systems are well researched and documented such as the study published by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in 2012 on the economic rationale of circular economy shows an estimated net material cost saving of more than USD 600 billion p.a. by 2025, driven by closed-loop product manufacturing systems. Despite these tremendous economic and environmental advantages closed-loop manufacturing struggles to become a mainstream practice. Research shows that the closed-loop manufacturing is still in its infancy, fragmented and driven primarily by third-party small or medium sized remanufacturers. In order to elevate its status to a mainstream business, it is critical to raise the interest, involvement and support of the OEMs, and to integrate reuse and remanufacturing strategies into the mainstream business for closing the product loop eventually.

In line with “cradle to cradle” thinking, ResCoM’s approach aims to transform the tangible and intangible product waste into valuable resources, supported by the ResCoM “pillars” in a systemic perspective.
• Design: design methodologies for multiple lifecycles
• Supply chains: integrated forward and reverse supply chain solutions that can handle the dynamics of multiple lifecycles
• Business models: innovative service models supporting product returns to OEMs
• Technology: collaborative PLM software platform supporting multiple lifecycles and supplemented by material databases, remanufacturing technologies and best practices disseminated to OEMs

It is important to emphasize that the ResCoM approach is not limited to encouraging product reuse and remanufacturing. The ResCoM framework is meant to evaluate all possible forms of closing the loop including product level recycling, component level recycling and material level recycling. However, in the ResCoM concept, material recycling is the least efficient alternative from the perspective of environmental performance and is only used when the other two alternatives are not feasible.

Project Results:
The work in ResCoM has progressed well in period 2 and all the seven deliverables due in this period are submitted as per agreement. Following the project plan the project has looked into the product manufacturing systems of the participating OEMs, analysed relevant state of the art research and industrial practices and developed methods and tools (primary versions) targeting design and analyses of closed-loop product systems and management of multiple lifecycle products. The development and dissemination work in period 2 was executed primarily through activities planned in WP3 to WP7.

The work in WP3- Design for Multiple Lifecycles- after evaluating lifecycle impact of the OEM case study products and best practices in design of products in deliverable D3.1 and D3.2 respectively in period 1, development of design methods and tools is presented in D3.3 which is submitted in period 2. This deliverable highlights the importance of developing context-specific methods and tools that are geared towards the first design stages of the company’s product development process. The results of this work provide lays the foundation of work in D3.4- generic ResCoM design methodology which is to be developed in the last period of the project.

The work in WP4- Supply Chain and Business Models for Multiple Lifecycles- has resulted in two important deliverable D4.2 and D4.3 in the period 2. The work in these deliverables is built upon the analysis in D4.1 submitted in period 1, which identified essential and critical factors for the closed-loop product systems. D4.2 presents dynamic and analytical models of closed loop product systems for the case study products. These models are validated internally making sure that they take all industrially relevant business factors into account making sure that the models are best possible logical representation of the considered cases. The same models are validated externally in D4.3, using inputs and data from the OEMs with the purpose of comparing the economic and environmental performance of OEMs’ existing linear manufacturing systems with envisaged closed loop systems.

WP5- Collaborative Software Platform- is working on the development of ResCoM platform for lifecycle management of multiple lifecycle products from the stage of product design to their return for reuse, remanufacture or recycle. In period 2, the developments in this WP have resulted in three deliverables. D5.7- Enhanced Eco Audit tool for multiple lifecycles- describes the prototype of an enhanced Eco Audit tool for multiple lifecycle product designs listing proposed features of the enhanced Eco Audit tool, the requirements and a “how-to” procedure for using the prototype tool effectively. It also explains the theories, assumptions, and mathematical models used to develop the tool. Second deliverable D5.4- Material database implementation iterations aims at illustrating the implementation to the materials database carried out to meet the needs of the ResCoM platform. Moreover, the document shows how the material database interacts with the “enhanced eco-audit tool for multiple lifecycle” (D5.7) as well as with the “Service Life Database” (D5.6 submitted in period 1). The third deliverable, D5.8- PLM software iteration, is a planned update of D5.5- PLM software specification, submitted in period 1. This document summarises what has been developed during the two iterations of the deliverable D5.5 and presents a list of changes and updates made to the ResCoM Web API. In addition to the updates of the Web API, the updates include a description of the mapping framework used for importing and exporting data to the platform as well. The development work presented in theses deliverables takes the project forward to realising the concept of ResCoM platform supporting the OEMs in analysis and implementation of closed loop approach in their environments.

As in period 1, the work in WP6- Industrial Case Study Evaluation- has once again focused on monitoring the development of methodologies and tools in WP 3, 4 and 5 to continuously assess their deploy-ability and ensure that the progress is in the right direction, aligned with the primary objectives of the project. For this, internal mechanisms such as regular workshop sessions, regular feedback questionnaires and implementation of a feedback and reaction and case study roadmap updating have been established. These mechanisms have helped in stronger interactions among the project partners and crated a collective development approach. However, in addition, significant amount of preparation work for the upcoming deliverables 6.2 to 6.5- market pilot and validated virtual models of the OEM cases has been performed in this WP to ensure that these are delivered as planned.

WP7 has been maintaining and updating the project website and flyers, has set-up and maintained a Linkedin group and has been disseminating ResCoM at Ellen MacArthur’s CE100 network of companies and other relevant events. Furthermore, WP7 has successfully organised the project advisory board meeting in June 2016. WP7 has also delivered D7.5- ResCoM Serious Game. Main purpose of the game is to educate players about the advantages and disadvantages of an ‘access’ (lease) versus an ‘ownership’ business model, from a Business to Consumer (B2C) perspective. It also aims to make manufacturers and consumers aware that there can be a financial incentive as well as a sustainability incentive, in choosing for example, a leasing model. In addition, work in this WP included an update of the dissemination plan, which is shared with the project officer for information and review.

Overall, the project has succeeded in developing methods and tools to support ResCoM OEMs in their ambition to transition from linear to closed loop manufacturing. These methods and tools encompass full horizon of a manufacturing business including product design conception, business case and its environmental performance, lifecycle analysis and management of products with multiple lives. The developments so far have been done in very close cooperation with the participating OEMs and therefore in some cases are specific to the needs of their environment. However, after going through testing and validation of the methods and tools in the specific environments, the development partners will work on creating some generic guidelines, which will be useful for broader categories of products and companies with similar product portfolios and business environments. The list below provides a list of methods and tools developed and tested in the project so far.
Design decision support:
• Circularity calculator
• Upgrade forecast tool
• Remanufacturing checklist
• Part planning tool
• MFD based modular design methodology for multiple lifecycle products
• Enhanced eco-audit tool (LCA extension for multiple lifecycles)

Business decision support:
• Analytical models
• Multi-method models using system dynamics and agent based modelling

Lifecycle decision support:
• PLM platform focusing on reverse logistics management
• ResCoM standard data model for supporting multiple lifecycles- an enhancement of ISO 10303-239 PLCS
Potential Impact:
ResCoM focuses on methodologies and tools for resource conservation in manufacturing. Besides its direct impact on sustainability, it also has a significant economic impact, via the development of the remanufacturing industry in Europe, and the greater resource independence of EU states. Finally, the project is aiming to generate guidelines for a standard framework to be used by the next generation of scientists and environmental experts.

Sustainability Impact: ResCoM has a direct impact on waste/landfill reduction and resource conservation:
• Up to 85% of the product added value (labor, energy) can be recovered through remanufacturing.
• Only 10%-15% virgin material is required in remanufacturing which means
- EOL waste is reduced by 85%-90%
- Efforts and resources needed to produce raw material (i.e., mining and mineral processing) and waste generated during raw material production are also reduced proportionally
• 85% the energy consumption to create new products can be saved by remanufacturing.
• As a result of these improvements, the ecosystem preservation (reduced use of land area, water and reduced GhGs emission etc.) can be achieved at the same scale.
Economic impact: ResCoM will be at the core of OEM’s strategies to boost their competitiveness in the future. OEMs that adopt the ResCoM framework will face less pressure against temporary (short term) resource shortage due to political crisis or natural disasters, and permanent (long-term) resource scarcity. They will significantly reduce their raw material costs as they can distribute them over several product lifecycles, creating a strategic cost advantage over their competition. Specifically (EU-based) suppliers can deter the entry of low cost (non EU based) competitors by introducing lower cost remanufactured products. OEMs that adopt the ResCoM framework company will be able to adjust to market changes more quickly than their competitors.

ResCoM will also have the following scientific impact:
• Create a set of practical tools and models for the researchers working in the area of closed loop product systems
• Create from the industrial pilots a set of validated data (knowledge base) that can be used to derive guidelines for a generic framework, as a starting point for other types of industry to adopt ResCoM.
• Create a collaborative platform to support decision-making that can be used by scientists, designers and operational managers to research, plan and implement closed-loop product systems
• Raise awareness around the field of circular economics with the ResCoM serious game
• Provide input to policy-making organizations via the European Resource Efficiency Program
• Provide input to standardization committees (ISO 10303-239 and ISO/WD 8887-1)

The project is in its second phase now and can be seen to influence the approach of the partner OEM’s significantly. Bugaboo is running its pilot leasing project with valuable insights to be shared in the last part of the project. Gorenje’s plan of a pilot project has grown much bigger than the initial idea and a three-tier business concept for a B2B closed loop laundry service is approved by the company management. LOEWE is also exploring the feasibility of establishing an entertainment service business with an ambition to extend the useful life of its home entertainment products. In addition

• R&D partners, KTH and TUD are employing more researchers to work dedicatedly on the ideas of closed-loop manufacturing and circular economy
• KTH has also established its Circular Economy Initiative with a base funding of more than one million Euros, dedicated to research and education on the topic.
• KTH partly inspired by ResCoM has also hired two new faculty members in the area of circular economy at the ITM school level where different departments are collaborating to support this initiative
• TUD, partly inspired by ResCoM has established a professorship in Circular Product Design at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering and a full professor is now hired
• One spin-off, a consultancy in industrial implementation of CE solutions, is already set-up and the ResCoM partners are also discussing patenting of the new developments in the project
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