Effective and efficient design and provision of product-service systems : challenges, opportunities, and solutions

Abstract: The world manufacturing companies operate in is changing. In the past, these companies relied on the design and sale of products. Today, this linear model of business is becoming increasingly insufficient. As customers are more and more focused on their core business, buying and operating machinery and other goods becomes unattractive to them. In response to this, manufacturing companies are expanding their value capture into additional stages of the product lifecycle by providing integrated offerings of products and services — Product-Service Systems (PSSs).Designing and providing PSSs is fundamentally different from traditional product sales. Expanding to become a PSS provider is, therefore, challenging for companies with a history of designing and selling products. Departing from this, it is the aim of this thesis to support manufacturing companies in their expansion to effective and efficient design and provision of PSSs. The research reported has both descriptive and prescriptive properties, reflecting the goals of understanding the status quo in manufacturing companies’ practice and providing support based on this.To establish a point of departure, the current design and provision of two manufacturing companies expanding their business towards PSSs was investigated. From this, an in-depth understanding of the status quo and a number of challenges emerged.Based on this, the research had the goal to contribute to identifying and developing solutions to these challenges, with an initial focus on methods supporting PSS design and provision. However, although methods fitting to the challenges identified exist, they appear to receive limited uptake in manufacturing companies’ practice. In order to improve their practical utility, a structured method is proposed to assist users in both academia and practice in developing methods in a requirements-oriented fashion. The utility of methods in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of PSS design and provision is thereby to be enhanced.A particular challenge for manufacturing companies expanding to become PSS providers is the change in how value is captured: Resulting from the extensive involvement throughout the lifecycle, a need for a broader, multidimensional understanding of value capture was identified. However, the manufacturing companies investigated have been found to experience challenges in grasping this change, with a focus on a product sales-centric understanding of value capture remaining prevalent. To support companies towards reaping the benefits of the expansion to PSS design and provision, methods to explore how value is currently created and captured in the use phase and how to enhance the future value capture based on that information in the design phase have been developed and applied. As a result, broadly relevant value dimensions were attained, aiming to facilitate a lifecycle-focused, effective, and efficient design and provision of PSSs.Eventually, to broaden the understanding of effective and efficient design and provision of PSSs in practice today, the potential contributions of real-world PSSs to a circular economy were investigated based on an existing framework. The result was ambiguous, indicating both advancements compared to traditional sales and substantial room for improvement, particularly with a focus on the absolute decoupling of economic activity and resource use.Based on the synthesis of the research results, manufacturing companies are supported in their expansion to effective and efficient design and provision of PSSs — and towards a promising future.

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