Design For Utility, Sustainability And Societal Virtues: Developing Product Service Systems

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There are a number of theories that describe the necessary improvements in global environmental performance in order to maintain status quo in our ecosystem. These theories are far reaching in their ambitions, and it is not immediately apparent as to how we should be able to achieve, for example, a factor 20 improvement in our environmental performance. One attempt, however, has recently emerged, which combines the product as an artefact with the service that the product provides to the user. Through the combination of these two facets, the company retains ownership of the physical artefact and adds a responsibility and influence upon everything that the product gives rise to in its life; its usability, environmental and social virtues. This enables a series of potential improvements to the product¿s performance throughout its lifecycle. The ideal of product service system (PSS) development is that all three stakeholder groups ¿ customer, company and society ¿ benefit from the service systems related to each one of these dimensions, rather than simply one of the above. There are existing examples of the enhancement of business and market share by focusing on PSS, but this is often not a result of upfront strategy and ambitious goals. In our paper we attempt to identify the nature of such a multiple definition of PSS, the link to proper understanding of value and utility and innovative approaches for PSS-oriented product development. This paper will expand on the phenomenon of PSS in the belief that a proper understanding of PSS will give us the design degrees of freedom necessary to create radical innovation. The article draws upon existing product development and PSS theory and models and experiences from projects carried out with both industrialists and students. We intend to demonstrate a series of important arguments through this paper that support PSS consideration in industry.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProcedings of Design 2004 8th International Conference on Design
PublisherFaculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture
Publication date2004
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Event8th International Design Conference - Dubrovnik, Croatia
Duration: 17 May 200420 May 2004
Conference number: 8


Conference8th International Design Conference


  • Ecodesign
  • PSS
  • Product life
  • PD methods
  • Environment
  • Lifecycle
  • Product development
  • Sustainable design


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