ECOTECH - Production durable et technologies de l'environnement

Design and Integration Methodology for Sustainable Innovation with Multiple Upgrade Cycles – IDCyclUM


The concept of upgradeable systems: increasing attractiveness for user and optimized environmental performance!<br /><br />

The «upgradeable« products to reduce the environmental problems caused by the accelerated obsolescence of objects.

To reduce the environmental problems caused by accelerated product obsolescence, this research program investigates new kind of « evolving« products that could gradually adapt to future user requirements while dramatically improving the environmental performance on its life cycles: the Sustainable Innovations with Multiple Upgrade Cycles (IDCyclUM). These IDCyclUM are based on relevant functional enhancements choice brought to the product for each upgrade cycle, supported by upgradability services (authorizing new business models) and on components / technical processes adapted from the design to ensure this upgrade (maintainability, configuration management ...). Make these IDCyclUM exist requires raising three major obstacles: obstacle in changing of business model, obstacle in the definition of the functional dynamics of the product (type of upgrade and of cycles) and obstacle in optimizing the environmental performance generated by the increasing of the lifetime and modular changes.

The purpose of this research program is to validate the relevance of the concept of IDCyclUM, demonstrating its technical feasibility (design method), revealing its economic viability (through the formalization of new business models based on upgrade cycles multiples) and confirming its contribution to progress towards sustainable development (environmental benefits). This demonstration notably including a survey in France, Germany and Spain, the Workshops in industrial partners (B2B and B2C), the development of a new method of design for upgradeable systems and tools or prototyping, has mobilized several disciplines (economics, social, industrial engineering, eco-design).

The results show that over 60% of people separate devices while they still work. A design method for upgradeable and modular system into 9 stages, supported by 4 micro-tools, was developed. It includes the upgrades scenario, kind of schedule of functional enhancements (upgrades) and trajectories of business models associated with upgradeable products, with a network approach (stakeholders) and more servicial offers increasing attractiveness.


Five articles Journal were submitted, one by each academic partners (LISMMA to JCP, GSCOP to CIRP and JoMD, COSTECH DS, GAEL to IJSD). The consortium has participated in 5 international conferences and 4 national conferences. The dissemination of the concept towards industrial companies took place in seminars (CICLE and ATA EcoSD Network). The industrial partners have developed models of their future strongly focused on modular systems.

In order to reduce the environmental problems engendered by an accelerated obsolescence of products, we claim, in this research program, the necessity of a new sort of "evolutionary" products susceptible to adapt itself gradually to the future requirements of users while improving radically the environmental performance on all life cycles: we named them Sustainable Innovations with Multiple Cycles of Upgrade. These IDCyclUM rest on upgradability services (with a new business model) enabling to enrich the features of products as well as technical constituents / processes enabling to insure the upgrade of products (remanufacturing, maintenance, management of the configuration) planned in the beginning of the design process.

These Sustainable Innovations with Multiple Cycles of Upgrade ( IDCyclUM) present earnings on the environmental plan (improvement of the product duration, reduction of the material consumption, of wastes, of the energy consumption during usage…), on the economic plan (the logic of upgradability services is source of new -and better distributed in the time- incomes for the company), on the social plan (the upgradability services are inevitably local activities, which come in replacement to the delocalized production of new products) and on the commercial plan for the company (better development of customer loyalty).

However, these Sustainable Innovations with Multiple Cycles of Upgrade ( IDCyclUM), require to raise four major obstacles: an obstacle due to the change of business model, a technical obstacle caused by the modification of the product and thus the design method, an obstacle in the determination of the upgradability parameters (number and duration of cycles and type of upgrade at each cycle) and finally, an obstacle in the improvement of the environmental performance during the succession of cycles.

To remedy these problems, a consortium of 4 recognized university partners (LISMMA / SUPMECA, GSCOP / INPG, GAEL / INRA, COSTECH / UTC) , two internationally sized industrial partners (Group SEB: European leader of the small household electrical appliance and Group Neopost: 1st european manufacturer of franking machine and second market on the world market) and one german research laboratory (IWF/ Braunschweig University) developed a research program containing 8 main tasks (WP1 to WP8, WP0 concerning the project management). The WP1, WP2 et WP3 are analysis tasks and aim at defining (WP1) barriers and control levers of the passage of a traditional business model to a business model based on several cycles, (WP2) the replacement causes of products and the type of upgrade which could be associated and (WP3) the understanding by the user of the impacts during the use phase and their reduction potential. The WP 4, WP5 and WP6 are tasks consisting in methodological development: (WP4) aims at developing generic integration strategies from the results of WP1, (WP6) aims at defining generic schemes of eco-learnings from the results of WP3, and (WP5) consists in building a design method specific to the IDCyclUM. This WP is followed by a WP 7 consisting to experiment the methodological elements with a first company (B2C products) and a second company (B2B products). This research program ends with a stage of formalization of design tools (WP8) and the results diffusion within both industrial groups .

Project coordinator


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.



Help of the ANR 893,860 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2011 - 40 Months

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