Environmental concern has greatly increased in magnitude within the companies of Swedish industry. Product development has become a strategic area: the environmental adaptation of products is fundamental for a decrease in environmental impact from human activities, and product development is an area of the greatest importance to the competitiveness of companies. Integrating environmental aspects into product development at operations level is needed to achieve product improvements.
The theme of this thesis is how to integrate environmental aspects into product development. An overarching purpose has been to identify adequate activities and changes required for integration. Great importance has been attached to conducting changes, especially by investigating how successfully to implement support tools in product development. Qualitative research interviews have been used to collect empirical data. Conclusions on measures industrially applicable to enabling the integration of environmental aspects have been drawn, as empirical data and experiences have been accumulated. Environmental aspects give rise to new considerations in product development: causal relationships between products and environmental impact; the life-cycle approach; and, new priorities and trade-offs between function, cost and quality of products. A need for activities supporting these considerations is identified; and, preferably, several activities, concerning knowledge development, work procedures and support tools, should be applied. It is also important to identify environmental actors for providing expertise and enthusiasm in the organisation. The implementation of support tools has to be carefully considered. To guide such implementation a framework with key factors has been developed. The framework suggests a cyclical implementation process, identification of the organisational change field, and consistent management behaviour. Keys to successful implementation are goal setting, knowledge development, adequate resources, anchoring at all levels, and a focus on individuals. To stay competitive, companies need to be proactive and respond to the driving forces underlying environmental adaptation. To make possible the environmental adaptation of products, several measures are needed. The following proactive measures have been identified:
- Management ought to set direction with a comprehensive view on business development and physical flows in the business.
- Commitment to desired change must be created to make sure changes are accepted and durable.
- Knowledge and skills need to be developed with an action learning approach.
- Work procedures need to be adjusted to include environmental criteria and secure interaction between product developers and environmental experts.
- Support tools can support a structured approach and enable rapid progress to be attained.
Stockholm: KTH , 2000. , x, 57 p.