Sunday, 13 May 2012

Focus on Object Innovation rather than Idea Innovation for Product Longevity

What is it Product Longevity?
Have you ever heard about this term before? Well maybe not the term, but the wording translates the meaning.  Product Longevity in human language simply means the expected live cycle of a product.   “The biggest contribution to green computing today would be to extend the product lifetime. Product longevity is an important tool to maximize energy-efficiency enabling upgradability and modularity of products. This helps to balance the ecological footprint rather than manufacturing and replacing products to meet current needs [3].  Life cycle analysis is an examination of all the energy and resources used in a product. So this analysis route us to a problem; we are running on an enormous ecological deficit, and our problems have to be solved by developing existing society further.[1]

Furthermore, computers can run smoothly for a timespan of over 10 years, however, companies renewed every 3 to 4 years. The essential issue of our main topic ‘Green IT’ is why do we need to change our computers too often?  The answer is simple, it’s because every year, new software versions appear and require more resources (memory, processor, disk, graphics card, etc.) from our products to perform the same tasks.[2]

Product longevity helps to ensure an intelligent utilization of resources in the manufacturing of products and solutions. It plays a major role in the stages of the product life.  It starts from the design to the end of the life of the product. The longer a product is in use, the fewer the numbers of that particular product that need to be created as well as disposed of [3].

Therefore, in order to solve this problem of product ‘shortavity’ we have to maximize ecological efficiency and thus will minimize our expenses. However, this will only happen if our products are designed from the start to be eco-friendly.  The strategy for that is to design for longevity and not for disposal.  When designing for longevity we have to consider the following: [1]

- Timeless, classical design
- Long lifespan 
- Durability
- Designed for modularity
- Designed for ease of repair and maintenance
- Possibilities for re-use
- Possibilities to upgrade with new technology

However, if you find that a product has the following features;

- Fashionable design
- Designed for take back
- Designed for recycling
- Designed for eco-friendly disposal

Then keep in mind that this product is designed for disposal!  

New technologies, new user needs, new markets and new business models, then we end up with new opportunities for longer life products.

I would like to share the following Q&A that I found on which basically summarizes this post: 

Question: What is the impact of product longevity?
Answer: Lighting products are sometimes disposed of as waste because they have lost output and become too expensive to maintain. This is often because they were never designed to be upgraded, or sometimes even repaired, after installation. This situation is a cause of unnecessary waste as 90% of the fitting may still be fit for purpose, but one element has degraded or failed. In contrast light fittings designed with easily replaceable elements can be upgraded in the future and will minimize future waste flows.