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Product Configurators and Sustainability

Product configuration is shaping the future of sustainable manufacturing

According to a recent Tacton survey, 94% of manufacturers we polled noted that sustainability is at least somewhat important to their goals for 2022 and beyond.

As manufacturers strive to become sustainable, no matter the goals, it must be done in an integrated manner that leverages technology across business functions. This can take into account new business processes, especially around custom capital equipment. Customers who request products based on sustainability goals want to know every part of the manufacturing process. 

With this they can make an informed choice on where product parts come from, giving them insight on their footprint as a customer. Manufacturers can create resilient operations that take into account the challenges of climate change, supply chain by having a clear view of their entire selling landscape, from sales to order fulfillment. This creates a way to avoid any major disruption.

Manufacturers can create resilient operations that take into account the challenges of climate change, supply chain by having a clear view of their entire selling landscape, from sales to order fulfillment. This creates a way to avoid any major disruption.

That’s why we held our Conscious Manufacturing Summit to highlight some of the new sustainable developments going on across the globe.

At the summit we talked with industry leaders about the state of sustainability in manufacturing and how Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) software is helping companies become more sustainable and socially responsible.  

After the event we were able to speak with one of our guest speakers, Irene Campo Gay. Irene is a mechanical and industrial design engineer getting her Ph.D. at the Technical University of Denmark. Irene has a focus on configurators that can be used as sustainability assessment tools. 

Why is there a focus on product configurations and sustainability?   

First, product sustainability is a critical topic that is becoming more and more talked about in the media. Second, users are demanding more transparency on sustainability information. This is because many users are looking for ways to reduce their use of fossil fuels in the long term.

Finally, and most importantly, there will be more sustainability legislation, which will push the need for tools to meet these requirements. Legislators across the globe are taking note of environmental benefits that sustainability can provide for future generations to meet.

What are some common approaches to using sustainability assessment tools?  

There is a need to guide users towards more sustainable choices and have them think outside of the box. This can create a customer experience that in real-time shows how choices they make impact their sustainability initiatives. Second, they need to assess the sustainability of the choices, and quantify which goals they will measure.

How can you use configurators as decision support systems for sustainability?  

During the configuration it’s important to give recommendations, such as the most sustainable option, or show which choice will meet their goals. Secondly, showing alternative solutions such as numerical and graphical representations of how their choice affects sustainability.  

This guidance isn’t possible without an assessment of the sustainability of each choice. Making it critical to quantify sustainability.

There are different ways to quantify sustainability. One way of approaching the matter is through environmental assessment methods,. one popular one is life cycle assessment (LCA). LCA is a methodology for assessing environmental impacts associated with all the stages of the life cycle of a commercial product, process, or service.  

What are other sustainability measures (prior to sustainability/environmental methods application) in which configurators have already found success? 

For example, there are many companies who have improved waste reduction through 3d product configurators. Another good example is avoiding the over design and oversizing of customized products.  

Oversizing occurs when the fit between customer needs and the product capabilities fail to match. These examples are obvious, but when selling complex industrial equipment, oversizing is much trickier to detect, especially when the customer needs are high and change throughout the course of the buying process.

And now, how can configurators be used as sustainability assessment tools?  

First, the users want to make their choices, with a configuration they can be guided to use more sustainable options.

Moreover, though configurators it is possible to automatically generate comparative sustainability annual reports and also climate declarations according to the relevant standards.

This is possible though the configurator and it’s knowledge base which contains information on the products, but also now all the information on the life cycle properties of any product. This information is still hard to find within some manufacturing companies but will become more easily accessible due to upcoming legislation.

New challenges require new solutions

Achieving your sustainability goals can take many forms, but the more aggressively you act the sooner you will achieve your goals and build a sustainable brand for the planet and your customers.

While every CPQ can give you some benefits and value around achieving your ESG goals, Tacton is unique in the market due to its dynamic constraint-based engine that helps end-customers to select the optimal product for sustainability in the configuration process.

This not only allows you to put guard rails around your customized product offering, but it enables your customers to configure the optimal sustainable product to achieve their goals.

At Tacton we can confidently and accurately say that no other CPQ has the engine to translate customer needs into the optimal solution for sustainability

Interested in learning more about product configurations and sustainability?

Schedule your demo and learn more!

Author: Michael Brassea