The transformative momentum of life-cycle design
Delivering to customers the technology they demand
We live in a world of digital connectivity and advanced manufacturing. This is a world where materials1 can be created that are a mere one atom thick, yet are three hundred times as strong as steel. This is a world where the opportunities for energy efficiency in design and manufacturing are phenomenal. At Epson, that’s something we’ve been eager to embrace.
The EU’s Eco Design Directive2 sets out a regulatory framework to guide energy efficiency in products sold within Europe. While legislation might offer us guidance on how we travel in this world of fantastic manufacturing, it’s far from the only reason for us to do so. And the clearest way for any organisation to deliver greater efficiency in its products, is with a comprehensive understanding of the full life-cycle of their creation.
Understanding the life-cycle
Epson has been working hard since the early 2000’s to integrate what we call life-cycle thinking3 into full product delivery. By understanding the full scope of resource at every stage of the life-cycle, we’re able to better manage resources and maintain the ultimate efficiency of the end product.
Life-cycle thinking is a process not limited to one industry or sector, but a holistic approach that can benefit organisations across a broad spectrum of manufacturing. At Epson it has already enabled us to recycle a significant proportion of all waste generated from our business activities (as outlined in our sustainability report4). Meanwhile our Environmental Vision 20505 sets out bolder targets for the future. Efficient design6 for manufacturing creates a wealth of benefits: reducing energy burdens, conserving resources and creating products that are more efficient, cost-effective and safer for our customers to use.
A level playing field
By setting out policy which applies to all qualifying products7 sold within the EU, the Eco Design Directive ensures that both external and internal manufacturers are held to equal standards. Key to maintaining this level playing field is the Energy Labelling Directive8, which offers the framework for communicating the energy efficiency of products to consumers in an understandable way.
According to EU figures9, energy efficient products have already saved Europe over €100 billion in the five years to 2014. Consumers’ understanding of the savings on offer from those energy efficiencies creates a huge opportunity for manufacturers.
The EU estimates a consumer using only energy efficient products could save €465 per year by 2020. That’s a significant saving for any household. While recognition of the specific figure might elude most, it’s clear that the benefits of energy saving do not. More than 85% of consumers reference the Energy Label when making purchasing decisions, creating an estimated €55 billion in additional revenue for European business.
Epson’s own research shows that sustainability considerations aren’t limited to home-users. In a survey of IT professionals10, 90% of respondents stressed the importance of energy efficiency when making a purchasing decision.
Both home-users and businesses, are increasingly aware of both the cost of energy and the metrics of its consumption. So while the regulatory framework might offer us a bare minimum target, it’s clear that exceeding that can deliver real benefits for business.
An informed consumer is an opportunity
The informed consumer is the reality of the world in which we work. Market Watch11 provides just one example of the many organisations seeking to deliver such consumer clarity. Yet in a recent study they revealed 1 in 5 appliances12 tested did not meet advertised energy standards. Experts estimate these inefficiencies could be costing €10 billion a year in lost energy savings.
It’s important for business to understand the impact of this. Misleading the consumer is poor business practice at the best of times, but in energy efficiency it not only undermines confidence, but presents a cost burden for product use far into the future. If we’re to deliver the benefits of energy efficient products, understanding the customer side of our product life-cycle is integral to the process.
Yet this informed consumer environment isn’t a stumbling block for a responsible business, but an opportunity to deliver better products. With Epson’s Make the Switch campaign, we ensured consumers were aware of the efficiency of Epson’s WorkForce Pro Business inkjet printers by commissioning an independent study13 from Buyers Laboratory (BLI). That means when we say our customers can reduce energy consumption by 96%14, they can be confident the figure is accurate.
Generating a business benefit from efficiency means demonstrating you can deliver the benefit to your customers. That doesn’t always require an independent study, but it does require a robust understanding of the full life-cycle of our products, and an appreciation of an environment where external scrutiny is more rigorous than ever.
It’s not only big business which can reap these rewards. The EU agency Eco-design for SME offers bespoke support for SMEs, making it simple for even the smallest enterprises to implement eco-design into their product life-cycle.
The future of efficient design
At Epson it’s clear that understanding the full life-cycle of our products is key to delivering efficiency, and that the best stage to influence that comes at the point of design. In the world of an informed consumer, it’s clear too that demonstrating the efficiency of those products can deliver real business rewards.
With renewed global emissions targets in the wake of COP21, and the EU’s own goals for energy reduction by 2020, any responsible company is likely already taking steps towards increasing efficiency in their processes.
It’s important that we continue to exceed regulatory targets and improve on the efficiencies through the whole life-cycle of our products. That’s true whether you’re manufacturing printers or teddy bears. With legislation continuing to evolve, those doing the bare minimum will quickly find themselves outpaced.
Efficient eco-design and energy labelling are expected to save the EU the equivalent energy of 60 million households annually by 2020. That’s the entire energy consumption of Italy for a year. Business has an obligation beyond legislation to work towards that goal. In the world of an informed consumer, we can be certain that our progress is being watched. You can be certain too, that the right kind of progress offers significant rewards for a responsible business.
14Visit www.epson.eu/inkjetsaving for more information