Decreased environmental impacts and costs
The ESCflow device is a good example of how designers can use an environmental assessment to identify areas for optimisation and develop a product into a more environmentally friendly direction.
The ESCflow food waste service measures a diner’s edible food waste in cafeterias and eateries. The ESCflow device indicates the amount of waste and affords the diner the opportunity to rate the food. The visualisation of waste encourages the diner to reduce food waste, which in turn lowers costs and environmental impacts.
"Three out of four Finns are willing to pay higher
prices for responsibly produced products or services."
The tablet stand that was initially designed for ESCflow did not completely meet the set requirements. A central problem was that its production costs were double the required amount.
The environmental impact of the stand was another problem area. An environmental assessment conducted indicated that there was much room for optimisation to reduce the environmental impact and to better match the environmentally friendly vision of the service.
The third drawback was the stand structure, which did not allow the stand to be installed on walls or tables. The most important goals of the new tablet stand were lowering production costs and environmental impacts by 50% and creating a structure that could be installed on walls and tables.
The design of the new tablet stand was started with a preliminary study and idea generation, followed by prototyping and production implementation. The work was done by a multidisciplinary team with backgrounds in mechanical engineering, industrial design, cost accounting, technical analysis, innovation and environmental engineering.
Creating solutions for new stand
First, a roadmap for the ideal tablet stand was created, which was connected to environmental impacts and the other core product requirements. Based on the roadmap, a basic principle for the table stand was generated with which the solutions’ environmental loads and costs were calculated and the environmental impacts evaluated in real time as 3D design progressed.
Prior to the idea generation phase, a 3D environmental impact study was conducted with the use of the 3D data from the initial table stand design. This data was used for comparison with the newly developed solutions. The results of the study indicated that a significant portion of the stand’s life cycle environmental impact resulted from the materials used and, in particular, from steel; 67% of its carbon footprint originated from raw steel. In order to achieve the design goals, it was justifiable to focus on material quantities and types. A cost evaluation indicated that changing the raw steel material and simplifying the structure could significantly reduce material and manufacturing costs. It was furthermore decided to optimise the structure so that the materials would be easily recyclable.
"Knowledge of environmental impacts is required
in order to produce more environmentally products."
Reduced environmental impacts and costs
The end result was a solution with a reduced steel quantity and a streamlined tablet stand with significantly lower manufacturing costs and environmental impacts. The solution was also suitable for installation on the floor, tables and walls.
Compared to the original design, the new solution lowered the carbon footprint by 58%, emissions to water by 59%, pollution due to acidification by 57%, total energy consumption by 56%, and manufacturing costs by 47%.