“Upgradable PSS”: Clarifying a new concept of sustainable consumption/production based on upgradablility

Abstract : Confronted with the accelerated product obsolescence and the resulting waste of materials, the concept of “optimised/increased/hybridised upgradability” is considered. In the literature, upgradability is used to respond to local technical problems (updating norms, update because of a broken component etc.) or as an end-of-life option. In our view however, it constitutes the heart of a new and promising paradigm of production/consumption. This paper proposes to consider hybrid systems that are called “Upgradable Product Service System (Up-PSS)” combining upgradability with optimised maintenance, with valorisation of end-of-life parts and with the servicisation of the offer. The promises of increasing attractiveness for clients, new businesses for manufacturers and a host of environmental benefits make this new concept highly pertinent compared to known models of production/consumption such as remanufacturable products, easily recyclable products, PSS, optimal maintenance products or basic upgrade products. Moreover, Up-PSS is a new opportunity to switch to offers without ownership transfer that facilitates the implementation of circular economy. In order to shed light on the field of Up-PSS and investigate the boundaries of this new paradigm, three actions are carried out: (1) focus groups with consumers and workshops with two manufacturers (2) on the upgradability of real products and (3) on the changes in business models. Our action research approach resulted in clarifying this new concept of the product by defining key ideas based on three keystones: (i) upgrades should be scheduled according to regular cycles of successive lines of functional improvements to satisfy the following themes of value creation: utilitarian, emotional, ethical, and service-oriented. There should also be specific upgrades chosen from a catalogue; (ii) the effects are strong environmental gains from multiple principles of rationalisation materials use but also by encouraging users to eco-friendly usage of their products; this is formalised by an eco-score to which both users and producers are committed. (iii) The above are accompanied by continuous interaction between clients and manufacturers through a web platform, offers of upgradable systems that would integrate bundles of services resulting in the system's growing attractiveness in the eyes of clients. This in turn would set in motion new modes of contracts, offering manufacturers new and more frequent ways of earning revenue; this would be conditional on setting up an upgradability support service that would be attractive to clients as well as reorganising the value chain with the participation of new partners. This transformation of the value network over time implies developing new development paths for business models to facilitate the transition from current economic models centred on material goods to models that are more service oriented.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - 10:47:54 AM
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Olivier Pialot, Dominique Millet, Justine Bisiaux. “Upgradable PSS”: Clarifying a new concept of sustainable consumption/production based on upgradablility. Journal of Cleaner Production, Elsevier, 2017, 141, pp.538 - 550. ⟨10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.08.161⟩. ⟨hal-01590757⟩

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