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PLM Framework for Sustainable Product Design

on ‎02-13-2014 05:26 PM


This morning I have another guest post from Kerri Doyle. Last time we caught up with her, she filled us in on Teamcenter issue management & CAPA, however, lately she's been feeling a bit green! There is no question that the proliferation of human beings have had a significant impact on our environment. We can see the signs all around us. A recent book even predicted that unless we work together to turn the tide, we will bring about the sixth extinction event on earth which will make the event that wiped out the dinosaurs look like a picnic. Here's Kerri with some insight on why it's prudent for us to do our part and how PLM can help your company's sustainability efforts.


Consumers these days, me included, are paying more attention to the human and earth friendly aspects of the products that we buy and consume. A recent USA Today article published on September 12, 2013, Wal-Mart announces phase-out of hazardous chemicals, highlights our attitude toward sustainability.

“In April, dozens of health and environmental groups, including the Breast Cancer Fund and the Union of Concerned Scientists, urged the nation's top 10 retailers — including Wal-Mart, Target and Costco — to rid their store shelves of 100-plus hazardous chemicals. It asked them to develop a plan within a year to phase out their use in products.”


Often, the reputation of the company who produces the product will weigh in on the consumer buying process. The same is true on Wall Street and the financial world. Financial investors have been integrating sustainability into their portfolios for some time now and they recognize companies who rate high in this area. This is most likely why we are seeing an increase in company participation in the S&P Dow Jones Sustainability Index. The chart below displays the results of the 2013-2014 Industry Group Leaders in sustainability efforts based on the Global Industry Classification System (GICS) identified by RobeccoSAM:

Sustainability Leaders

Criteria for the S&P Dow Jones Sustainability Index changes each year and companies must continue to make improvements to their long-term sustainability plans in order to remain on the index. Most manufacturers get this. They know that the world is looking at them to continually produce innovative, green and earth friendly products and they must do this to win in the global market. But how do manufacturers make the leap from recognizing the need to address sustainability initiatives to actually putting a successful and sustainable solution in place?

Setting up a sustainability framework to get green initiatives done right the first time is key. Gone are the days of kluging together multiple systems to test and report on environmental compliance. Today, in order to efficiently address Design for Environment (DfE) and to stay competitive in the global market, smart companies are moving towards PLM platforms to integrate product development with their sustainability initiatives.

Jim Brown, Business Analyst and President of Tech-Clarity, Inc. recently discussed the importance of a sustainability framework to address Design for the Environment in his Tech-Clarity TV episode titled Tech-Clarity Sustainability Maturity Framework

Jim makes some really good points about the importance of an integrated platform approach to manage current and future sustainability demands. He also warned us about the disadvantages of using disparate systems to manage compliance. Jim further wrote a white paper to elaborate on PLM’s role in defining DfE initiatives. In his whitepaper he points out that:
The most common software solution used for compliance – spreadsheets – fail because they promote a siloed approach, are prone to errors, and are ineffective at sharing information between people and across organizations.” 

“A DFE platform that works in the context of PLM offers a forward looking, efficient, and holistic approach."

Manufacturers who approach sustainable product design using a PLM framework will not only benefit today in addressing current sustainability challenges and gaining a competitive edge, but also tomorrow in addressing future needs and requirements to produce earth friendly, innovative and compliant products. A win win for both manufacturers and consumers.

Visit our Teamcenter's sustainability and environmental compliance solution page to learn more about leveraging a PLM framework for sustainable product design and download Jim Brown's whitepaper Tech-Clarity Insight: PLM's Role in Enabling Design for the Environment.