Product-service systems: Added value for productivity and raw material efficiency at one blow?
Status quo and potentials in resource-intensive production processes
Germany is a country with limited resources and thus its industries are highly dependent on an intelligent and efficient use of raw materials and resources. In order to stay competitive, the management has to seize and implement strategic solutions which focus on efficiency and contribute to global sustainability. Hence, the use of product-service systems (PSS) could have a valuable impact on this development, e. g. by intensifying the usage of products or because the provider possesses a deeper know-how for a more efficient use of the product. The hereby induced changes in the relationship between supplier and customer can also lead to a decoupling of resource consumption and profit generation and thus reduce the environmental impact. Until now, the concept of PSS has been well known within the context of total cost of ownership concepts and productivity. There are few sources of management literature which refer to their potential to reduce the environmental impact of industrial production. However, the effects of PSS on cost and resource efficiency as well as on increasing productivity have not been explored thoroughly. Hence, we identify opportunities for PSS along the production processes within resourcedependent industries with a high use of raw materials, such as e. g. the chemical, metal and steel making industries. Afterwards, we will assess the potential economic impact as well as the potential environmental benefit and try to crosslink them for PSS with the focus on improvements regarding energy and material efficiency, recycling processes as well as closed loop systems. We derive hypotheses from a comprehensive literature review and from empirical data from a large scale survey of the German manufacturing industry conducted in 2009 to analyse the current situation of PSS in resource-intensive industries focusing on raw material efficiency. Moreover, a qualitative assessment of these hypotheses based on 14 interviews with different customer and provider companies for PSS in the steel making, chemical and recycling industries is given.