CE10 - Industrie et usine du futur : Homme, organisation, technologies

Multi-disciplinary design approach of Eco-Innovations MULTI-users and MULTI-cycles of upgrade – MULTi-Eco-Innov

Multidisciplinary approach to the design of Eco-Innovations Multi-Users and Multi-Upgrade Cycles

The improvement of the environmental efficiency of economic activities requires the design of more sustainable, recyclable but also upgradable goods (multi-life cycles) and the implementation of their shared use (multi-users) in order to avoid the under-use and waste of resources. <br />But how to ensure the economic and environmental viability and the sustainability of such multi-life and shared systems over the long term?

For an innovation with a high environmental Factor (4) and an economic viability: sharing and upgrading

While the path of upgradability and sharing of the everyday goods seems promising from an ecological point of view, the question of their economic viability and of their acceptance by consumers is far from being solved. This is becoming a major issue at a time when global crises are reinforcing the need to propose industrial solutions to revive the economy and to consume with sobriety, without leaving the efforts made up to now in the environmental field.<br />The aim of this research programme is to obtain:<br />• An environmental innovation with a high impact reduction, with a maximization of the use of the material in time while satisfying the expected uses,<br />• A social and economic viability of the consumption modes associated with the eco-innovative system, over time,<br />• A design approach that coordinates environmental, social and economic issues.<br /><br />The general aim of the project is to obtain an operable knowledge for companies and entrepreneurs involved in MULTi-type economic activities. It calls for the following objectives:<br />• Objective #1: Environmental innovation with high impact reduction, of the order of Factor 4,<br />• Objective #2: An understanding of the conditions for emergence, adoption and sustainability over time of an eco-innovative system (including eco-innovation, associated services, sales methods, production organisation, etc.) according to the different stakeholders in the emerging new consumption mode. It is precisely the objective of SDG12 to “establish sustainable consumption and production patterns” and “encourage businesses to adopt sustainable practices” (SDG 12.6),<br />• Objective #3: A methodological approach to design coordinating environmental, social and economic issues, with elements/bricks that can be understandood and operable for decision-makers, designers and industrial managers, and which, from an analytical point of view, makes it possible to qualify and evaluate the conditions of success or failure for a given case.

The MULTi Project presents a methodological originality with a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach. We try to build innovative results benefiting from bibliographical and methodological references of engineering sciences and of the sciences of organizations and markets (sociological or business approaches).
Only such a holistic way seems able to answer the multiple questions of a change in consumption modes driven by sharing and upgrading.

3 topics are analyzed:

1. Method of designing eco-innovations based on upgradability and eco-sharing: management of module scenarios for disruptive environmental gains without degrading the attractiveness of the product.
Conceptual and theoretical framework: ecodesign engineering, modular architecture, system upgradability and resilience, life cycle thinking, environmental assessment, eco-use, Kano theory
Methodology and tools: simulator programmed in VBA, focus group, usage analysis, environmental assessment (LCA analysis)

2. The determinants of a viable and sustainable business model of an upgradable and shared offer (MULTi)
Conceptual and theoretical framework: organisational control (BM-viability) and economics of agreements (Business models & stakeholders) -
Methods and tools: interpretive, case studies, interviews, documentary work, group interviews, use stories, and evaluative for the financial part (price and analogy/existing study or ABC for costs, assets to finance).

3. Social Exchanges and Social Regulation in MULTi Organizations
Conceptual and theoretical framework: Theory of regulation/ Theory of social exchange
Methodology and tools: in-depth case studies of MULTi-type organisations, interviews, documentary work, participatory observation, observation of organisational and cooperation arrangements and social exchanges (knowledge exchange, support) between users of the good and regulations. Longitudinal (before/after) questionnaire survey of user populations.

Work still in progress at 18 months
Expected results:
The MULTi-Eco-Innov project has a pragmatic focus. The final deliverable is a “step-by-step” methodology guide for designing MULTi systems. The intermediate outputs of the project take the form of formal methodological tools: a multidisciplinary design method of MULTi systems integrating product/service architecture, upgrade scenarios, modularity for shared use, environmental assessment (with the SADT formalism), a design simulator to test scenarios, an analysis grid and a mapping of the viability and sustainability elements of MULTi business models (risks/opportunities – commitment levels) and the characterization of the system of motivations but especially of the internal modalities of regulation of stakeholders and intermediation devices (from forum/web to events organized in face-to-face) between stakeholders in favour or against the shared use of upgradable goods, which we will also call “supports” for sustainability.

Dealing with the future prospects is premature at mid-term of the program.
However, the work undertaken to date leads to a review of the present social and economic models that goes beyond the questions of sharing and upgradability and enters into a more global societal questioning.

Kuszla C., Bellini B., Kooli-Chaabane H. and Mathieu M. (2022), At The Heart Of The Implementation Of A Disruptive Sustainable Business Model (SBM): The PSS-CIRCULAR Case, A structurationist analysis of the SBM ecosystem, NBM 2022, Sustainable Business Model Challenges: Economic Recovery and Digital Transformation – LUMSA University – Roma, 23rd and 24th of June 2022.

The current trend of intensive innovation brings products with accelerated obsolescence to the market, in the logic of selling more and more, increasing the rate of exploitation of materials or energies and the emission of pollutants. It is necessary to imagine new and more sustainable modes of consumption and production in order to break this negative spiral of waste.

The aim of this research program is to provide:
• An environmental innovation with a strong impact reduction, of the order of Factor 4, with a maximization of the use of the material over time while satisfying the expected uses,
• A social and economic viability of the mode of consumption associated with the eco-innovative system (including eco-innovation, associated services, mode of sale, producer organization, etc.) and over time (phases of emergence, adoption and sustainability),
• A design approach coordinating environmental, social and economic challenges, with elements / bricks that are understandable and operable for industrial designers and decision-makers.

The MULTi project proposes to design upgradable (MULTi integrations of functional improvements) and eco-shareable systems (MULTi users supported towards an eco-use), and thus to make the best use of the material extracted and shaped over time by maximizing the number of operating cycles of any product. For systems with a low or rare intensity of use, and there are many, they would be shared among several users, with attention paid to eco-use to avoid usage drifts generating overconsumption and degradations harmful to the lifetime of the system. For products with wear and obsolescence problems, their operating time would be extended by making these systems adaptable / upgradeable / flexible via the integration of new modules incorporating or not functional improvements or upgrades.
These MULTi systems, with their associated services for sharing and upgradability, therefore define a new mode of consumption that requires a new kind of business model: defined as a business strategy tool, it must be designed in connection with the control and the management of consumption operational process to ensure the emergence-adoption and sustainability path of these MULTi systems. The MULTi program claims that this work of redefining the drivers of the economic viability must be extended to obtaining social sustainability, that is to say, it is necessary to rethink the networks of stakeholders (business side, consumer side), their relationships, their intermediation devices and their motivations which go beyond conventional commercial exchange.

To seriously address these multiple issues, the consortium of this project stands out by the multidisciplinary nature of its members, combining the knowledge / skills / methodologies and points of view of technologists and managers on the business, marketing or financial aspects and on the social science aspects with the study of the relationships between stakeholders. The final deliverable will take the form of a methodological guide for the design of MULTi systems (product, service, business model, social sustainability), multidisciplinary therefore and which is intended to be operated by a design team. Intermediate objects will be developed and used as a medium between disciplines in the project and will ultimately serve as an intermediate phase of the design in the guide, which will be available for free access on the web.

Project coordination


The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


COSMER Conception de Systèmes Mécaniques et Robotiques
CERGAM Centre d'Etudes et de Recherche en Gestion d'Aix-Marseille

Help of the ANR 394,490 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 42 Months

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