Product development with a focus on integration of environmental aspects

Abstract: Environmental awareness has increased during the past 2-3 decades, and companies have gone from simply following legislation to adding environmental considerations into their business plans. The ongoing developments make it interesting to study how leading companies integrate environmental considerations into their product development processes. The aim of this thesis is to study how environmental considerations can be integrated into the product development process. It is based on studies made in the Swedish manufacturing industry. The research has used both quantitative and qualitative methods. The foundation for the conclusion was derived from the four different studies building this thesis. The aggregated conclusion from the studies suggests a conceptual model consisting of four cornerstones that should be addressed in order to ease the integration of environmental concerns: the management, product development process, DfE Mindset, and DfE Tools. The development of this model has its foundation in industrial case studies that show how leading companies have integrated environmental considerations in an innovative way. Combined with the conceptual model is a discussion concerning the usage of existing tools and how sub-activities carried out within the development process are less formal than before. This non-rigid structure is in line with what is suggested in current innovation research for radical innovation, since it enables creativity to flourish and does not limit designers. This freedom of action for the creativity of the personnel in the projects has raised the environmental work to a new level. The thesis also suggests how to use analytical and dialogue-based tools in a development project. It is beneficial to have a dialogue tool in the beginning of a project and in a radical innovation project, while it is beneficial to have an analytical tool later on in a project if more that one tool is used or in an incremental innovation project.