New re­search pro­ject launched to in­teg­rate sus­tain­ab­il­ity in­to product de­vel­op­ment

 |  SustainabilityResearchPress releaseHeinz Nixdorf InstitutFaculty of Computer Science, Electrical Engineering and Mathematics

The importance of sustainability in industry is constantly increasing. As a result, engineers are often faced with a conflict in which they have to decide between economic and ecological aspects - in favour of or at the expense of product properties. To change this, Paderborn University, Diebold Nixdorf, Harting, Miele, Siemens Industry Software, Wago and the Wuppertal Institute have joined forces under the leadership of the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechatronic Design Technology (Fraunhofer IEM). Together, they want to create solutions for how developers and product managers can take key sustainability aspects into account in the early engineering phase. The new "Sustainable Lifecycle Engineering" research project is being funded with around 3.7 million euros by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Protection and Energy of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Jülich project management organisation and the it's OWL network and will run for three years.

Model-based approach to intelligent technical systems to play a pioneering role

Stefan Pfeifer, head of the Systems Engineering department at Fraunhofer IEM, explains: "For many companies, sustainability has become a necessity and an enormous challenge: they have to manage the balancing act between responsible use of resources and economic thinking and behaviour. However, the sustainability dimension also offers opportunities, especially when innovative technical solutions reduce the carbon footprint without having to sacrifice anything."

Denis Tissen from the Heinz Nixdorf Institute and the Institute of Computer Science at Paderborn University also sees sustainability as central to system design: "Design, validation and production are shaped and determined in the early phases of product development. This is precisely where the model-based approach is a pioneer as a development methodology for intelligent technical systems. Accordingly, sustainability aspects must also be taken into account right from the start."

"Sustainable Lifecycle Engineering" focuses on the development of sustainable products and systems and recognises a key role here. In the early stages of engineering, developers make fundamental design decisions that influence the sustainability of products and development processes. The aim of the project is to help developers make economical and sustainable decisions.

The project is divided into three fields of action: The first examines the aspects of sustainability in engineering and identifies relevant requirements and effects on processes, methods and organisational structures. The second deals with model-based decision support to help developers take sustainability aspects into account. In the third, existing approaches to product life cycle management are expanded to include sustainability data in order to support important design decisions.

Innovative solutions to master the balancing act between economic efficiency and sustainability

By integrating sustainability aspects into the entire engineering process, companies will be able to fulfil legal requirements and take advantage of ecological and economic opportunities in the future. This could make questions such as "Should coils in electric motors be moulded with plastic to reduce heat loss - or does it make more sense to dispense with the plastic to facilitate subsequent recycling?" a thing of the past in future.

This text has been translated automatically.

Symbolic image (Paderborn University, Besim Mazhiqi).


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Denis Tissen

Advanced Systems Engineering / Heinz Nixdorf Institut

Write email +49 5251 60-6494