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Circular Building Products, a case study of soft barriers in design for remanufacturing


Abstract and Figures

The building industry contributes approximately 40% of the total waste generated in the European Union (EU). Across the EU a shift towards closing product loops, as part of a transition towards a circular economy, is considered as a promising approach to reduce waste and pollution. Remanufacturing is an example of a strategy which supports this approach. It is applied in various industries that are intensive materials users. It has, however, not been applied in the building sector on a large scale. This is unfortunate, given that buildings offer several favorable key conditions for remanufacturing, such as providing access to high volumes of products, containing high material value, at fixed locations. This paper aims to analyse the human, soft issues for design for remanufacturing at the design stage of products used in the built environment. The methodology used consisted of a literature review followed by a workshop with twenty professionals from the building industry. The workshop approach was developed in a series of EU funded projects. The paper concludes by proposing that, even though the technical barriers to remanufacture building products are low, the soft barriers in the shift towards remanufacturing, on a larger scale, appear to remain high.
Content may be subject to copyright.
This is an authors’ copy of the work. The definitive version was published in the
Proceedings of the International conference of Remanufacturing 2019,
June 2019, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Nina Boorsma a, Tanya Tsui b, David Peck b
a. Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology
b. Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology
Abstract: The building industry contributes approximately 40% of the total waste generated
in the European Union (EU). Across the EU a shift towards closing product loops, as part of
a transition towards a circular economy, is considered as a promising approach to reduce
waste and pollution. Remanufacturing is an example of a strategy which supports this
approach. It is applied in various industries that are intensive materials users. It has, however,
not been applied in the building sector on a large scale. This is unfortunate, given that
buildings offer several favorable key conditions for remanufacturing, such as providing
access to high volumes of products, containing high material value, at fixed locations. This
paper aims to analyse the human, soft issues for design for remanufacturing at the design
stage of products used in the built environment. The methodology used consisted of a
literature review followed by a workshop with twenty professionals from the building
industry. The workshop approach was developed in a series of EU funded projects. The paper
concludes by proposing that, even though the technical barriers to remanufacture building
products are low, the soft barriers in the shift towards remanufacturing, on a larger scale,
appear to remain high.
The practice of remanufacturing is not new, nor is it
novel. In terms of materials and energy, the closing of
product loops, in this case extending the life of the
product via remanufacturing, is considered a
promising approach to cut down pollution and in
particular reduce CO2. Together with reducing energy
use and pollution production, remanufacturing
reduces the dependence of primary (geological
sourced) material use.
The closed loop, product life extension, lower
impact, approach fits within the frame of the circular
economy. Within the EU, Circular Economy (CE) is a
relatively new policy concept that has been brought
into the spotlight by the European Commission’s CE
Action Plan in 2015 (EC, 2015). There are diverging
views on what the EU, Member States and other
stakeholders mean by CE, with no universally agreed
definition. CE approaches have only been
incorporated in research and innovation activities in
recent years.
The EU circular economy approach not only seeks
to help meet the EU member states commitments to
reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing
primary material import dependency, but it also
supports the commitments to agenda 2030 via the UN
Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). The driver
from the policy commitments is well stated, but policy
does not translate to business activity easily.
Remanufacturing is an example of a strategy which
supports this approach. It is applied in various
industries that are intensive materials users. It has,
however, not been applied in the building sector on a
large scale. This is unfortunate as a building contains
high volumes of products, at fixed locations,
containing high value materials. Moreover, even
though many buildings are bespoke, building products
are standardized, creating further opportunities for
Design activities of companies to develop building
products are generally centered around a single use.
However, for those companies who actively engage in
remanufacturing operations, it might prove profitable
to also incorporate ‘multiple use’ thinking in their new
product development process. Designing for multiple
use can, for example, incorporate Design for
Remanufacturing (DfRem) methods during the new
product development process. DfRem is a strategy to
design a product that is optimised to be
remanufactured. The aim is to restore the products
(known in remanufacturing activitities as ‘cores’) to
the original performance specification, with a
warranty, in box, as new. To help unpack the factors
which influence this process, the following central
research question was formulated:
For remanufacturing, what is the role of soft barriers
at the product development stage?
1.1. Methodology
The methodology to conduct this research is built up
in three parts.
Firstly, the description of a generic method for
product development was developed to act as a
reference point for the study. This was done by
consulting literature by leading authors in the field of
product development and product design. This was
complemented by reviewing the published product
development models as applied in education for
industrial design engineering at the TU Delft, The
Secondly, an overview of current design for
remanufacturing methods and design rules from
literature was consulted. The literature was not
specific to the building industry and covered a range
of sectors. It was observed that remanufacturing
literature from the perspective of the building sector
was absent in the searches carried out. An overview of
approaches and design rules for design for
remanufacturing was selected to give a summary of
what is published in literature.
Thirdly, the scope of the research and the
framework to analyse the case is introduced. This was
also conducted via literature review. The search terms
which were used in the search engines of Scopus to
find an applicable framework, were ‘drivers’ and
‘product innovation’. For the selection of the
framework the following criteria were used:
- The framework should go beyond technical
product characteristics
- The framework should be based on literature
and tested in practice
- The framework should be acknowledge
within the academic field
And finally, a case study approach is deployed, using
a case from the building industry, which is analysed
using the proposed framework. The case data was
collected through an EU funded H2020 workshop and
follow up conversations with the company. The case
approach follows the structure of shorter case study
interviews as described in Yin (2018), by using a
protocol in the form of (unpublished) worksheets and
structure documents from the EU projects, these are
shown in appendix A.
2.1. New product development process
In order to determine where and how soft issues
influence the design stage, the new product
development methodology was consulted. However,
before discussing the design methodology, it is
important to introduce the supply chain for building
parts. To explain this, the facade equipment
manufacturer was used as an example. First, the
typical legal process of constructing a building in the
Netherlands will be described; then, stakeholders
involved in the process of constructing a building will
be addressed; and finally, building product
manufacturers’ position in the system will be
explained. Even though an example from the
Netherlands was used, the basic frame is applicable in
other parts of the world.
2.1.1. Constructing a building
To start off with, a building should be seen as an
assemblage of products, instead of being one single
product. These products have different life cycles,
which vary from a few years (services) to a few
hundred years (structure), as shown in Figure 1
(Brand, 1995). These products include the structure,
skin (facade), space plan (such as interior walls,
partitions, finishes), and services (such as lighting,
water, heating, and ventilation systems) (ibid.) and
are designed by different product manufacturers. In
Figure 1 Shearing layers of products within a building’s life
cycle (Brand, 1995).
this system, a facade equipment manufacturer would
provide parts for the “skin” of the building.
When a client, such as a real estate developer,
seeks to construct a building, a contract is signed with
a contractor. The contractor then commissions an
architect and consultants to design the building, as
seen in Figure 3 (Azcarate-Aguerre et al., 2017). After
the building has been designed, the contractor,
architect, and consultants jointly select suppliers for
the required materials and products in the building,
examples of these materials are steel beams, windows,
roof tiles and air conditioning systems. Next,
architectural drawings are produced, specifying the
final selection of products and suppliers for the
construction process.
In their turn, suppliers, such as facade equipment
manufacturers, manufacture products and sell them to
contractors. The product will be mounted onto the
building by either the contractor or the supplier. In
some cases, companies have their own construction
2.1.2. Development of building parts
An architect does not design every window, roof tile,
column and heater in a building. The architect’s role is
to design the form, materiality and organization of the
building. After this the selection of building products,
which fit into the architectural vision, takes place.
Although every building looks unique, the products
that make up the building are oftentimes mass-
produced commercial products.
This description is a generalised view of the
building industry. The processes to develop a building
are not standardised, which means that legal systems
and design processes can differ.
Often architects work closely together with suppliers
to modify existing products for optimal integration
with the building. And, at times, architects design their
Figure 3 Legal system of a typical building contract in the
Netherlands (Azcarate-Aguerre et al., 2017).
own building products, such as facades, stairs or
doors. However, in general, most building products
are not designed by architects: they are designed,
manufactured, marketed, sold and distributed like
other products in commercial markets.
2.1.3. New product development in commercial
product markets
Several leading authors in the literature of product
design engineering have generated theoretical models,
and refined each other’s models, for new product
development. This section will give a short description
of product design methodology.
According to Ulrich and Eppinger (1995),
characteristics which determine the success of new
product development are product quality, product
costs, development costs and development capability.
Ulrich and Eppinger argue, that the departments
carrying out the activities of marketing, design and
Figure 2 The product development flow chart, by Ulrich and Eppinger (1995).
manufacturing generally take in a central position in
the product development process (ibid.). Where
marketing forms the link between company and
market; design (engineering and industrial design) is
the embodiment of the artifact fulfilling the need of the
consumer; and manufacturing is responsible for the
design of the production process. In the product
development flow chart, the authors distinguish six
stages within the process, as shown in Figure 2, in
which each previously mentioned department has its
own activities.
Roozenburg and Eekels (1991) have also
developed a theoretical representation of the product
development process. This model is constructed using
the same elements as the model of Ulrich and
Eppinger, in which adjustment are made to the process
flow, acknowledging that several processes take place
in parallel. This model can be found in Figure 4,
starting from ‘Formulation goals and strategies’ and
ending at ‘Use’.
Buijs (2003; 2012) further developed the model
of Roozenburg and Eekels, specifying the process
steps in more detail and dividing the product
development into four phases in his Delft Innovation
Model. The four phases he distinguishes are: Fuzzy
Front End of innovation, New Product Development,
Muddy Back End and Product Use (Buijs, 2007).
- Fuzzy Front End - Identification and
anticipation on market opportunities (Buijs,
2007; Koen et al., 2001)
- New Product Development - Transformation
of a design brief into a physical product
(Buijs, 2012)
- Muddy Back End - Product launch and
market introduction (Buijs, 2007)
- Product Use - Origin of need for new product
innovation cycle (Buijs, 2007)
Balkenende & Bakker (2018) have adapted the
representation of Roozenburg and Eekels to meet the
present-day requirements for responsible product
development, by adding recovery as a final step
(Figure 4). This step is added to trigger designers to
incorporate decisions about the possible end-of-life
scenarios during the design phase.
With this adaptation the stages of the Product
Innovation Process are enriched by the task of
opportunity and solution finding for recovery
operations, allowing a company to discover potential
to improve its resource efficiency.
2.2. Technical design requirements for
Applying technical design for remanufacturing
guidelines does not necessarily change the design
process, it more likely changes or adds requirements
to the product architecture and design. These technical
design requirements are extensively described in
literature. An overview of approaches and design rules
for design for remanufacturing was selected to give a
summary of what has been published in literature. The
first overview contains approaches for design for
remanufacturing as summarized by Hatcher et al.
(2011), and can be found in Table 1. The second
overview contains a list of design rules for X,
generated by Bovea & rez-Belis (2018) and can be
found in Table 2. The second part of the overview
consists of detailed design guidelines for designing
products for remanufacturing.
Figure 4 The Product Innovation Process by Roozenburg and Eekels (1991), with the recovery step added by Bakker,
adapted from Balkenende & Bakker (2018).
2.3. Framework of predictors for new product
Manufacturing companies operating in commercial
markets in general, require a diverse set of
capabilities to run their operations. These capabilities
can be divided into two main categories. The first
category refers to soft capabilities, which are routines
needed to create new, or redirect existing, operational
capabilities in order to support innovation efforts
(Daneels, 2011; Pavlou & El Sawy, 2011; Teece et
al., 1997). The second category refers to hard
capabilities, which are sets of routines needed to
execute those business activities which are key to
delivering a promised offer to the customers (Pavlou
& El Sawy, 2011; Teece et al., 1997).
2.3.3. A focus on soft issues
In a previous paper, 16 journal papers revealing
barriers to remanufacturing were analysed using the
dynamic capabilities model (Boorsma et al. 2018).
This analysis pointed out a focus predominantly on the
hard capabilities (integrating, coordinating), and
limited focus on soft capabilities (sensing, learning).
This paper therefore deep dives into the soft
capabilities of a case study in the building industry.
According to Pavlou & El Sawy, the sensing
capabilities include capabilities related to identifying
market opportunities and being responsive to market
trends. The learning capability comprises capabilities
related to obtaining new knowledge and creative new
2.3.3. Predictors of new product performance
An analysis of the soft barriers for the selected case
was made using the model for ‘Predictors of new
product performance’ generated by Henard &
Szymanski (2001) (Table 3). The assumption
supporting this choice, is that even though
remanufactured products contain previously used
content, when put on the market they are subjected to
the same influences as new products are. For this
Design for remanufacturing approaches
Bras and Hammond (1996); Amezquita et al. (1995)
Shu and Flowers (1999)
Sundin (2004)
Zwolinski et al. (2006);
Zwolinski and Brissaud (2008); Gehin et al. (2008)
Ijomah et al. (2007a,b); Ijomah (2009)
Willems et al. (2008)
Lee et al. (2010)
Sutherland et al. (2008)
Zhang et al. (2010)
Ishii et al. (1994); Kimura et al. (2001)
Lam et al. (2000); Sherwood and Shu (2000)
King and Burgess (2005)
Chiodo and Ijomah (2009)
Pigosso et al. (2009)
Yuksel (2010)
Table 1 Design for remanufacturing approaches table was adopted from Hatcher et al. (2011)
Table 2 Design for remanufacturing guidelines table, adopted from Bovea & Pérez-Belis (2018).
Predictors of new product performance
Product characteristics
Product advantage
Superiority and/or differentiation over competitive offerings
Product meets customer needs
Extent to which product in perceived as satisfying desires/ needs of the customer
Product price
Perceived price-performance congruency (i.e., value)
Product technological sophistication
Perceived technological sophistication (i.e., high-tech, low-tech) of the product
Product innovativeness
Perceived newness/ originality/ uniqueness/ radicalness of the product
Firm strategy characteristics
Marketing synergy
Congruency between the existing marketing skills of the firm and the marketing
skills needed to execute a new product initiative successfully
Technological synergy
Congruency between the existing technological skills of the firm and the
technological skills needed to execute a new product initiative successfully
Order of entry
Timing of marketplace entry with a product/ service
Dedicated human resources
Focused commitment of personnel resources to a new product initiative
Dedicated R&D resources
Focused commitment of R&D resources to a new product initiative
Firm process characteristics
Structured approach
Employment of formalized product development procedures
Predevelopment task proficiency
Proficiency with which a firm executes the pre-launch activities ( e.g., idea
generation/ screening, market research, financial analysis)
Marketing task proficiency
Proficiency with which a firm conduct its marketing activities
Launch proficiency
Proficiency of a firm’s use of technology in a new product initiative
Reduced cycle time
Proficiency with which a firm launches the product/ service
Market orientation
Reduction in the concept-to-introduction timeline (i.e., time to market)
Customer input
Incorporation of customer specifications into a new product initiative
Cross-functional integration
Degree of firm orientation to its internal, competitor, and consumer environment
Cross-functional communication
Level of communication among departments in a new product initiative
Senior management support
Degree of senior management support for a new product initiative
Marketplace characteristics
Likelihood of competitive response
Degree/ likelihood of competitive response to a new product introduction
Competitive response intensity
Degree, intensity, or level of competitive response to a new product introduction
(also referred to in the literature as market turbulence)
Market potential
Anticipated growth in customers/ customer demand in the marketplace
Table 3 Predictors of new product performance, adapted from Henard & Szymanski (2001)
reason, the commercial potential of remanufactured
products will be evaluated using a framework of
predictors for new product performance. The authors
acknowledge that the framework has been adjusted
since 2001, more extensive literature review is
required to analyse the successive versions.
To gain more insight in the full range of soft barriers
affecting remanufacturing operations, the case of a
facade equipment manufacturer was analysed. The
selected company for this analysis is a manufacturer
of high-end window shades. The company supplies
products to the contractors executing the construction
of a building. It is a mature company, with 500+
employees, established 50+ years ago and it
participates in the Facade Leasing Research project at
TU Delft. The company is currently exploring
opportunities for remanufacturing within its industry.
The case data was collected through an EU funded
workshop and conversations with the company during
the workshop.
The workshop was given on 22-Jan-2019, in the
Faculty of Architecture, TU Delft, the Netherlands. 22
people participated, mostly managers from SMEs in
the building industry, but also academics with related
research interests.
The participants of the workshop were mainly
from the building facade sector in Western Europe,
and were technical managers, business developers,
engineers, and architects. Details about the companies
joining the workshop can be found in Table 4.
The five-hour workshop started with two
presentations by TU Delft, followed by two exercises
in which participants got into groups of 2-3 to
understand how remanufacturing could be
implemented into their own companies using the
worksheet in appendix A. The workshop ended with
all participants sharing their final thoughts and the
most important findings from their day.
3.1. An introduction to remanufacturing
building products
Although building products are similar to non-
building products, several distinguishing factors can
potentially form barriers to remanufacturing. Firstly,
building products are part of the large supply chain of
an entire building. Since buildings are an assemblage
of products, the supply chain of a building highly
complex, and therefore includes more stakeholders
than for non-building products. Examples of these
stakeholders are: the user, the real estate developer, the
building contractor, the architect and other building
product manufacturers. The facade equipment
manufacturer, therefore, is not directly in contact with
the client. The only possible channel of
communication with the client is the architect or
building contractor.
Secondly, the lifespan of building products is
relatively long, while the period of ownership
generally is much shorter. Therefore, it is likely that
the building changes hands several times during its
lifetime. This often leads to a disconnect between the
building part supplier and the owner, making it
difficult for cores to be retrieved for remanufacturing
at end-of-life. For example, in the case a certain
building product needs replacement, those responsible
for maintenance might not know the original
manufacturer of that building product. Typically,
when a building product needs to be repaired, the user
contacts a general repair company, instead of the
original equipment manufacturer (Azcarate-Aguerre
et al., 2017). Companies like Madaster are trying to
create databases for building owners about their
Overview of workshop participants
Company type
Product example
Facade shading manufacturer
Manufacturer of high end, bespoke
shading products for facades
Motorized sun shading for facades on
Facade manufacturer
Manufacturer of standardized facade
products, including windows and
integrated building services
Window unit
Building material manufacturer
Manufacturer of bio-based, non-
structural, planar building materials
Bio-based interior wall
Building contractor
Builder and demolisher of buildings on a
contractual basis
Service - construction and demolishing
Architecture office
Designer of buildings, with interest on
circular design
Service - building design
Table 4 Details of workshop participants
products, however these services are not yet widely
applied within the building industry (Madaster, 2019).
Thirdly, in a broader perspective, in terms of
supply and demand, large scale market dynamics are
not yet in place. The concept of circular economy is
only just emerging in the building industry, therefore
there is a lack of awareness about the topic throughout
the supply chain. There were no examples found of
building products remanufactured at a large scale, in
the searches carried out.
3.2. Analysis of soft barriers to design for
The following table shows the results of the case
analysis using the framework for predictors of new
product performance (Table 5). The table only
includes those topics which were addressed during the
workshop, remaining characteristics are potentially of
influence but require more extensive data collection.
4.1. Framework of predictors for new product
In the previous section, the predictors of new product
development framework (Henard et al., 2001) is used
to evaluate the company’s soft barriers to
remanufacturing. While most of the barriers to
remanufacturing raised by the company could be
placed into the new product development framework,
some could not. The barriers that did not fit into the
framework were all related to the full life cycle
thinking that is essential for products and businesses
in the circular economy. This suggests that the
framework of Henard and Szymanski is more suited
for products in the linear economy, where the
objective and responsibility of companies is to sell
their products, with less emphasis on what happens
after these products have been sold. The framework
has been adjusted by different authors since 2001,
more extensive literature review is required to analyse
the successive versions.
The following paragraphs are recommendations
on how the Henard and Szymanski framework can be
adapted to evaluate a product’s success development
for remanufacturing. The four main recommended
additions are: business model related capabilities of
the company, upgradability of the product, consumer
input, and collaborations with other stakeholders.
The Henard and Szymanski framework should
include how business model related capabilities could
affect the performance of a product. The framework
focuses on the take, make, dispose business model for
products in the linear economy, and therefore does not
take into account services that accompany the product
after it has been sold, such as maintenance and repair
The upgradability or adaptability of a product can
be taken into account in the framework. The
upgradability of a product is important in a Circular
Economy because this makes it easier for products to
have multiple lives; to be remanufactured after its first
use. In the case study example, this would mean
making the products adaptable to different
Although customer input is included in the
framework, the main focus of the framework is on
input before the product is sold. “Customer input”
could potentially be split into two parts: pre-sales and
after-sales. When operating in remanufacturing
markets, information on the products’ performance
during use, and the time and location of the product’s
end of life is important. Companies can obtain this
information if they focus on customers’ after-sales
The degree of collaboration and connection with
other stakeholders in the supply chain could also be
added to the framework. In remanufacturing markets,
maintaining a connection with other stakeholders in
the supply chain allows for cores to be returned to the
original equipment manufacturer, allowing for smooth
reverse logistics.
At the same time as the linear approaches seen in
the new product development above, there is a
dominance of the ‘tech will fix it’ approach, which
even though applied to the circular, closed loop
thinking, results in a slow progress of the adoption of
remanufacturing and especially the uptake of design
for remanufacturing. The combination of the linear
thinking in new product development combined with
the circular hard tech frameworks leaves the human
soft aspects missing. This is an important gap as it can
be observed that the absence of the human drivers and
barriers can be more powerful than those from the hard
tech aspect. At the same time the frames for the soft
side are documented and applicable to the case of
4.2. Case
The case study company’s main barriers in identifying
market opportunities is caused by limited
investigation into markets for circular building
products, or remanufactured building products. The
company has not identified existing or potential
customers who may be interested in a circular building
product, and does not know of many clients,
architects, and contractors who are interested in
transitioning to a circular economy. The company is
also unsure of whether its existing customers would be
interested in any product that could be perceived as
“not new”, such as a remanufactured product.
Analysis of soft capabilities of a window shade manufacturer
Sensing capability
Learning capability
Product characteristics
Product advantage
Being responsive to market trends
The case study company is aware of ways product
service systems could potentially create an advantage.
Obtaining new knowledge
Offering facade equipment as a
service is a novel idea with no
Product meets customer
Identifying market opportunities
The company has not investigated potential markets for
remanufactured building products (e.g. clients / architect
/ contractors) who could be interested in circular building
Obtaining new knowledge
The company has no experience in
performing tests that a
remanufactured product has the same
quality and performance as a new
Product price
Identifying market opportunities
The company has not investigated potential price
strategies for remanufactured building products
Obtaining new knowledge
The company is concerned about
market cannibalization and does not
have the knowledge to prevent it
Product technological
Identifying market opportunities
The company produces highly durable products, but lacks
information about the market perception of circular
Product innovativeness
Being responsive to market trends
The company is aware that Circular Economy is of
growing importance to the EU. However, sustainability is
no main selling points to the company.
Firm strategy
Technological synergy
Identifying market opportunities
The company has not investigated required technical
skills to remarket remanufactured building products
Creative new thinking
The product's design allows for the
product to be easily constructed,
deconstructed, and transported, the
company is aware that this supports
Order of entry
Identifying market opportunities
The case study company is unaware of the potential
demand for remanufactured products, but does have
contact with clients who could supply cores for
Firm process
Marketing task proficiency
Identifying market opportunities
The case study company already recycles the aluminum
shades in the product, this is not marketed because
sustainability is not a main selling point in the market.
Technological proficiency
See learning creative new thinking
under technological synergy’
Market orientation
Identifying market opportunities
The case study company is unsure if their customers
would accept a remanufactured product. Currently, the
case study company products are marketed as bespoke,
high end products.
Internal, competitor, and
customer input
Identifying customer needs
The case study company does not monitor sold products,
therefore there is a lack of information for core
Obtaining new knowledge
The case study company is unfamiliar
with strategies to monitor products,
such as building passports.
Table 5 Case analysis using the framework for predictors of new product performance
Because of the complexity of a building project,
the case study company has barriers in identifying
customer needs. The company does not maintain close
enough relationship with the user of the product after
it has been sold, which prevents it from knowing when
a product can be collected. The company also provides
limited maintenance and repair service to users, due to
the complex legal nature of the building industry.
The case study company is also encountering
learning barriers to remanufacturing, specifically in
the process of obtaining and transforming knowledge.
In terms of obtaining new knowledge, the company is
missing knowledge in ensuring that remanufactured
products have the same quality and performance as
new products, in preventing market cannibalization, in
offering facade equipment as a service, and on
strategies of monitoring cores, such as using building
The company also has existing knowledge that
could be transformed. The product’s design allows for
it to be easily assembled and disassembled, since all
the connections within the product are mechanical, no
connections with glue. The company recognizes that it
could explore how this product design could make the
remanufacturing process simpler.
The company is aware of the increasing
importance of Circular Economy in the EU, and has
therefore started to explore future strategies with TU
Delft, attending the Workshop and participating in the
Facade Leasing Project led by Professor Tillmann
Klein and PhD candidate Juan Azcarate-Aguerre. By
participating in the Facade Leasing Project, the case
study company is also aware of the potential benefit of
product services systems to businesses as well as its
To answer the central research question (‘For
remanufacturing, what is the role of soft barriers at
the product development stage’?), the role of soft
barriers for the success of remanufacturing products of
a window shade manufacturer, a case study analysis
was made using the model for ‘Predictors of new
product performance’ drafted by Henard & Szymanski
(2001). Prior to the analysis, the supply chain
dynamics for the building industry, the theoretical
model for product development, as well as the
technical requirements for design for remanufacturing
were discussed. The data collected during an EU
funded workshop was used to do the final analyses of
soft barriers.
The conclusions which can be drawn from this
analysis are as follow. Firstly, regarding the
framework, the main conclusion would be that the
framework of Henard and Szymanski is more suited
for products in the linear economy, where the
objective and responsibility of companies is to sell
their products, with less emphasis on what happens
after these products have been sold. The four main
recommended additions to the framework, to make it
relevant to remanufacturing, are: business model
related capabilities of the company, upgradability of
the product, after-sale consumer input, and
collaborations with other stakeholders.
Secondly, the case study company’s main soft
barriers were identified. In relation to the sensing
capability, the main barrier is limited investigation
into markets for remanufactured building products.
The company is also encountering learning barriers to
remanufacturing, main barriers are missing
knowledge about the performance of remanufactured
products and missing strategies to monitoring cores.
The results from this paper can be used to draft an
encompassing framework for characteristics for the
success of remanufactured products. Such a
framework can be used to reflect on the extent in
which existing new product development efforts
support product remanufacturing, from both a
technical and human perspective, and helps finding
gaps for improvement. This allows opportunities for a
shift in focus for design for remanufacturing, from a
predominantly technical one towards a combined one,
including human, soft capabilities.
This paper was made possible by using results of EU
funded EIT KIC Raw Materials projects, called:
‘Remanufacturing Pathways’ (RemanPath), under
grant agreement number 17087, and Catalyse
Remanufacturing through Design Bootcamp
(CARED), under grant agreement number 18024,.
Prior work from EU Horizons 2020 projects
‘European Remanufacturing Network’ (ERN), under
grant agreement number 645984, ‘Key success factors
for re-use Networks’ (RUN), under grant agreement
number 15078, and ‘Bridging the raw materials
knowledge gap for reuse and remanufacturing
professionals’ (ReUK), under grant agreement
number 15023, are also acknowledged.
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Worksheets and structure documents from
the EU projects: workshop schedule and
exercise sheets: reman process map and
reman checklist.
I. Workshop schedule
Introduction of participants
Introduction to Remanufacturing by David Peck, TU Delft
Remanufacturing case study by Tanya Tsui, TU Delft
Technical process
Business model
Coffee break
Remanufacturing workshop
1. Reman process map: what are the processes in remanufacturing and is
your product ready for it?
2. Reman checklist: what are the conditions favorable to remanufacturing?
How can your company overcome barriers and utilize opportunities?
Final sharing
II. Exercise sheet: Reman process
III. Exercise sheets: Reman
... The data for the company producing window shades (A4) was collected in a four-hour workshop, followed up by conversations with the company. This workshop was set up using a protocol in the form of worksheets and structure documents from an EU project [5]. Elements discussed were the opportunities for remanufacturing the product in relation to market potential, product and production, and the remanufacturing process. ...
Full-text available
Adopting design approaches that allow products to last multiple use-cycles supports European Commission objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce primary material impacts. Remanufacturing is an example of an appropriate circular strategy and it can be applied in a variety of industries that are intensive materials users. However, most companies have not yet adopted design strategies facilitating remanufacturing at scale. In this paper, we explored how design management can facilitate the implementation of Design for Remanufacturing, based on a literature review and in-depth interviews. Seven companies active in business-to-business markets were interviewed about the design-related opportunities and barriers they see for remanufacturing. We found that access to technical knowledge is not a barrier, whereas integrating this knowledge into the existing design process is. We conclude that design management can contribute to the uptake of Design for Remanufacturing for the following reasons: by making the value of Design for Remanufacturing to the company at large explicit, by building bridges between internal and external stakeholders, and by embedding Design for Remanufacturing into existing processes by means of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and roadmaps.
Full-text available
The Circular Economy (CE) attempts to realign business incentives, across all fields of human industry, to support the preservation of raw materials within closed economic loops. Within this conceptual frame, Product-Service Systems (PSS) combine the use of tangible products such as building technologies, with intangible maintenance and monitoring services, to enhance the delivery of valuable performances while limiting the use of materials and other resources. This paper explores the potential for the application of CE and PSS organization principles in the delivery of Facades-as-a-Service. It explores how the benefits brought about by this way of thinking: Lower initial capital requirements, material ownership retention by suppliers, and long-term interdisciplinary collaboration, could lead to a more efficient façade construction industry, while accelerating the rate of building energy renovations. Within the current process for designing, manufacturing, and operating facades there is a gap between supply-side discoveries and demand-side needs, which hinders the implementation of resource-efficient facades. Facade leasing as a form of product-service system keeps suppliers committed, throughout the building’s service-life, to safeguard optimum performance in operation, while actively stimulating clients to adopt innovative technical solutions. The paper elaborates on both supply-side facade innovations and the demand-side conditions necessary to implement such business models, while exploring the costs and benefits of product-service systems as new business-to-client models to connect supply and demand. It builds upon the research project “Facade leasing” (MSc thesis by Azcarate-Aguerre, J.F., 2014) and combines knowledge about facade design and engineering (supply-side approach) with the knowledge about client needs, performance criteria, and willingness to pay (demand-side approach). The research methodology includes literature review and expert interviews, integrating both theory and practice. This paper argues that a Product-Service System approach to facade design, construction, operation and renovation could accelerate the rate and depth of building energy renovations. It could also provide incentives to supply- and demand-side stakeholders, to implement Circular Economy principles through new models of ownership, contracting, and service delivery. It aims at establishing the general conceptual frame of a Product-Service System for leasable facades, setting the basic parameters to be taken into account when designing a PSS-based business model, and formulating its value proposition.
Full-text available
Reuse is a good way to prolong product life and reduce environmental impact due to production. When the whole product cannot be reused, reuse of components might be the option. Mobile phone is a product in which technological progresses are made every year. Components of mobile phones often have high qualities. Such components may have good functionalities after the lives of the phones themselves. This paper focuses on mobile phone components and tries to find the feasibility of reuse. Because of the functionality of the component, the paper selects liquid crystal display (LCD) as the target of reuse. Firstly, disassemble experiments are carried out to clarify disassemble time and bottlenecks of dismantling. Secondly, design improvements to enhance disassemblability are discussed. Then, by comparing LCDs of mobile phones with target products, technological feasibility is examined. Finally, the paper concludes component reuse of LCD can be feasible by implementing design for disassembly.
This study analyses the current habits and practices towards the store, repair and second-hand purchase of small electrical and electronic devices belonging to the category of information and communication technology (ICT). To this end, a survey was designed and conducted with a representative sample size of 400 individuals through telephone interviews for the following categories: MP3/MP4, video camera, photo camera, mobile phone, tablet, e-book, laptop, hard disk drive, navigator-GPS, radio/radio alarm clock. According to the results obtained, there is a tendency to store disused small ICT devices at home. On average for all the small ICT categories analysed, 73.91% of the respondents store disused small ICT devices at home. Related to the habits towards the repair and second-hand purchase of small ICT devices, 65.5% and 87.6% of the respondents have never taken to repair and have never purchased second-hand, respectively, small ICT devices. This paper provides useful and hitherto unavailable information about the current habits of discarding and reusing ICT devices. It can be concluded that there is a need to implement awareness-raising campaigns to encourage these practices, which are necessary to reach the minimum goals established regarding preparation for reuse set out in the Directive 2012/19/EU for the category small electrical and electronic equipment.
A product more often than not is the assemblage of various individual components. The spatial alignment between functionally important components is what makes the product function. This chapter emphasizes the importance of designing for ease of assembly and disassembly. Assembly of a product is a function of design parameters that are both intensive (material properties) and extensive (physical attributes) in nature. Its design parameters include shape, size, material compatibility, flexibility, and thermal conductivity. When individual components are manufactured with ease of assembly in mind, the result is a significant reduction in assembly lead times and savings in resources (both material and human). It is imperative that each component be designed in such as way as to align efficiently. This entails the design and processing of the component in a specific manner with respect to shape, size, tolerances, and surface finish. On the other hand, disassembly is the organized process of taking apart a systematically assembled product to enable maintenance, enhance serviceability, and/or to affect end of life objectives, such as product reuse, remanufacture, and recycling. It is not necessarily the opposite of assembly. Components need to be designed for disassembly so that the process can be effected without damage to the parts’ intensive and extensive properties. Its importance can be attributed to growing scarcity of natural resources, increased processing costs for virgin materials (such as mining iron ore for steel manufacturing), and environmental legislation to make manufacturers more responsible with regard to waste disposal.
Future legislation may make it important for products to be designed to facilitate recycling in some form when they reach the end of their lives. The types of recycling which may take place are product or part reuse, product repair, product or part recycling (through disassembly) and material recycling (by shredding the product). Different organisations will instruct their designers in different ways to enable them to successfully carry out this task and maximise the amount of the product which is effectively and economically recycled. One design tool which could be employed in such a situation is a set of design guidelines. This paper illustrates those guidelines developed by Manchester Metropolitan University and design examples are given for a number of them. The importance of these types of guidelines is shown and ways in which they can be applied is given. Future design scenarios are also discussed.
The main objective of this paper is to characterise, both physically and chemically, waste electric and electronic toys, belonging to the category 7 of the Directive, 2012/19/UE, in order to obtain information about the generation and composition of this waste which is not widely found in the literature. For this, a campaign was designed with the aim of collecting a representative sample of waste toys in different schools in a Spanish town. Altogether 1014.25 kg of waste toys were collected, of which 31.83% corresponded to the electric and electronic fraction, which is the object of study. The collected wastes were divided into subcategories and a representative sample of each was one used to characterise them physically and chemically. Physical characterisation provided information about the materials they were made of, the electrical and electronic parts, fixing and assembly systems, and so forth. The results showed that the weight of a toy is comprised of 72.30% of plastics, 12.07% of electrical and electronic components, 4.47% of metals, and 11.15% other materials. In general, the most common types of polymers were PS, PP and ABS. Chemical characterisation made it possible to analyse the composition of the plastic components, which is information that is essential to be able to determine the feasibility of recovering the resulting fractions. The results showed that the content of hazardous substances in these plastics is far below the limits stipulated in Directive 2002/95/EC (RoSH Directive). The findings of this study show a need for a specific management system for this fraction of domestic wastes and a wide range of potential reusability of the discarded toys since 65% of the toys from the collected sample worked in perfect condition. We also found that the end-of-life is one of the aspects that have not been considered during their design as both materials and disassembly sequence do not facilitate the end-of-life of this type of wastes. This information could be used to improve the ecodesign of electrical and electronic equipment toys regarding their end-of-life. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Sustainable product development has become an important consideration by many product manufacturers in recent years. Manufacturers are adopting the life cycle approach in the development of products by incorporating the End-of-Life stage considerations at the design stage. To achieve this, however, there is the need to fill up the knowledge gap between the End-of-Life stage and design stage. Tools and methodologies for Design for End-of Life are required to assist designers to design products with better End-of-Life performance. In this paper, a novel Design for End-of-Life methodology is proposed. The methodology captures, represents and analyses the knowledge from the End-of-Life stage into a product End-of-Life Index. The index enables designers to make informed decision on design alternatives for optimal product End-of-Life performance using information from the End-of-Life stage. A case study illustrating the application of this End-of-Life Index on a power tool is subsequently presented. From the discussion, it was shown that the index was able to help to assess the End-of-Life performance of the design and also the changes made subsequently. In essence, this work done here has been demonstrated to be of assistance to designer to adopt Design for End-of-Life.
Purpose – This paper aims to highlight the importance of the design for disassembly (DFD) concept and to consider the key DFD principles. Design/methodology/approach – This paper first considers the motivations for applying DFD. It then identifies and discusses the key DFD principles. Findings – This paper shows that legislation and consumer pressure are driving product recycling and that DFD is a critical enabling technology. It shows that a series of simple design rules concerning product architecture, materials and fasteners can be used to implement DFD. It highlights the benefits arising from this strategy which include compliance with legislation and reduced component counts and material inventories. Originality/value – This paper provides an insight into the motivations behind the use of DFD and describes the techniques used in its implementation.
‘Design for Remanufacture’ or DfRem, is an area of remanufacturing research that has received relatively high levels of interest in recent years, due to the recognition that a product’s design may have a high impact on remanufacturing efficiency. However, the overall volume of literature dedicated to DfRem is low and there is still much to learn about the subject. The purpose of this literature review is to collate the current body of literature and establish a contemporary understanding of DfRem through analysing the trends, agreements and conflicts of opinion in the field. Much of the DfRem literature to date is focused upon the investigation of remanufacturing problems associated with product design, and the subsequent development of design methods and tools, either specifically developed to aid DfRem or as adaptations of existing design methods. These methods and tools vary in purpose and intended use but all largely remain within the academic realm to date. Within the literature there is widespread agreement that any approach to DfRem must consider both product and process, yet the ‘design for X’ definition of the task continues to spark debate. The key problems and issues that future DfRem research should address have been identified in this paper, from both within the literature and from the current gaps in the literature. Some key recommendations for future research include the need for ‘lifecycle thinking’ within design method development and the need for greater exploration into the organisational factors affecting DfRem integration into the design process, from the perspectives of the OEM and designer.