E. Manzini, C. Vezzoli
A strategic design approach to develop sustainable product service systems: examples taken from the “environmentally friendly innovation” Italian prize
(Source: Paper, Journal of Cleaner Production 11 (2003); pg. 851-857; Milan / Italy)
Product service system (PSS) describes the idea of designing and selling “satisfaction” rather than products. Assuming, that the customer (business as well as end user) doesn’t necessarily demand the product itself, but what the products and services enables him to achieve. This is basis for new stakeholder relationships, production processes and business models. Manzini describes this business model innovation as ‘… shifting the business focus from designing (and selling) physical products only, to designing (and selling) a system of products and services which are jointly capable of fulfilling specific client demands, while re-orienting current unsustainable trends in production and consumption practices. … usually referred to as a Sustainable Eco-efficient PSS.’.
Besides the collaborative idea key is that innovation doesn’t happen on product or process side but in the way existing technologies are systemized. In the paper 4 examples are described that target a latent social demand. Given the fact that they all use a – so far unseen – combination of existing technologies and services implementation seems quite easily possible. Prerequisit is that stakeholders are flexible enough to depart from consolidated patterns and get away from business-as-usual. Instead of optimizing their own segment PSS follows an overall systemic resource optimization which is based on the convergence of stakeholders’ interests. This approach results in new forms of organization within stakeholders as well as redefines their role towards other companies and clients. PSS is based on new systems of values and consequently creates new market opportunities that enable new offerings which either add value to the product life cycle or are a final result for the customer.
The 4 examples given are:
A) “The Diddi & Gori textile flooring service”
Diddi & Gori is in the segment of synthetic fibers production and sold textile flooring, mainly to retailers for exhibitions and trade fairs. Such products rely on oil refining which obviously have an environmental impact (e.g. resource consumption).
Their new idea is to offer services in addition to the product as a final result to the customer by offering the utility of the product rather than the product possession. The new offer includes the whole service from supply and installation to removal. This way the customer no longer buys the product but its utility – they don’t have to struggle with the disposal as Diddi & Gori remove the flooring and make fibre again. This has an impact on the design of the flooring in the first row. As Diddi & Gori remain the owner of the product over its life cycle, they are interested to enhance material’s lifetime. So easy recycling that allows to create new flooring is their inherent economic interest which reduces resource consumption and waste.
The motivation for the customer is that the overall cost is cheaper than buying and disposing the product.
B) “The Kübler services added to lubricant supply”
Kübler is a lubricant supplier for machines and components in various industries.
Their new idea is to offer services that provide value added to the product life cycle by analyzing the effectiveness of the aerosol treatment plants and of sewage treatment. In order to do so they set up a van as a movable chemical laboratory with which they analyse the performance of lubricants, the noises, vibrations and other undesired effects directly at the clients machines. Kübler suggests potential for efficiency as well as environmental protection and guarantees functionality and durability.
The motivation for the customer is to improve the lifetime of the clients’ machines and reduces their cost for monitoring and maintenance. The reduction of lubricants sold is compensated by the services offered and improved customer loyalty.
C) “The Allegrini service added to detergent supply”
Allegrini produces detergents and cosmetics.
Their new idea is to offer services that provide value added to the product life cycle by offering home delivery as a new way of supply. They have a mobile van that periodically tours from household to household and refills the provided plastic flacons – even if not completely empty. This reduces cost for packaging which – bottom line – reduces the cost of the product over all and increases customer loyalty.
The motivation for the customer is time saving (no need to go to a shop) and reduction of waste (reuse of packaging) and landfill.
D) “The AMG solar heat selling service”
AMG is a municipal enterprise providing gas and lighting to the city of Palermo / Italy.
Their new idea is to offer services in addition to the product as a final result to the customer. So instead of selling the gas they sell heat and hot water as a finished product as well as the maintenance of the equipment.
The motivation for the customer is to be environmentally friendly which – for a municipality – reacts to public opinion.