What is included in GreenConfiguration?
Green elements for a product lifecycle
GreenConfiguration includes multiple components that are available in different forms and exchange information. The information comprises sustainability data, lifecycle data, sustainability visualizations, and multi-criteria optimization.
Data on sustainability
Depending on the dimensions of sustainability taken into account, the sustainability data can vary in form. For example, they can be available as energy efficiency classes, CO2 values of greenhouse gas emissions, or environmental impact points according to the method of ecological shortage.
Some valuation metrics are already available in the ERP, PLM, or PIM system and can be seamlessly integrated into Merlin CPQ. Other information on sustainability first needs to be recorded. For example, you usually manage environmental accounting using special software. The data required for environmental accounting is mostly taken from common sustainability databases.
GreenConfiguration enables your product managers to develop a broad understanding of the sustainability of your own products and identify the potential for continued development. Your sales team finds the ideal solutions and can fulfill the increased demand for sustainability information. And your customers are happy that their configuration now also takes sustainability into account and brings them closer to their dream product.
Merlin CPQ seamlessly integrates with your existing system landscape. You can quickly and easily transfer product data from other systems, such as ERP or PLM systems, and return them as configuration results. The Single Source of Truth principle ensures that the correct product information is always available.
From the resource extraction to the completion and usage of a product to the product recovery, different systems are involved in the product lifecycle. Merlin CPQ enables seamless integration of these systems and thus creates the basis for integrated processes.
The demand for more sustainable products increases, and that is why you should make information on individual sustainability available to both your sales and your end customers. One of the central goals of GreenConfiguration is to make environmental sustainability transparent with the help of Merlin CPQ. You can display information on product sustainability in the configuration according to the desired target groups. Thus, you enable the users to make informed decisions without being sustainability experts.
The display of ecological sustainability is a challenge, especially when using complex evaluation methods. Even now, you already need to display much information on selection options, functions, and prices that are easy to understand. Information on sustainability increases the complexity of the provided information even more. GreenConfiguration in Merlin tackles this challenge with multiple features:
- In the default view, you can quickly and intuitively identify the most sustainable variants by their icon indicators.
- An expert view displays the exact numerical values and allows for precise configuration if the minute differences matter.
GreenConfiguration offers a unique chance for the complete evaluation of a product lifecycle. During the configuration, you can survey information on the planned product uses and thus compile an ecological assessment that is especially precise and customized.
The multi-criteria optimization enables the optimization according to multiple criteria which cannot be performed by a human being. The dimensions of the optimization can be selected by the user and weighted differently so that the end result is a completely optimized configuration. The optimization is an iterative process for which different heuristics are used. The process is affected by both the runtime of the optimization as well as chance.
The multi-criteria optimization enables you to define the important features of a configuration and automatically configure the less important features according to predefined goals. This way, the approach finds the compromise between different criteria: prices, functional requirements of the customers, sustainability in relation to strategic goals and requirements, as well as the strategic goals and requirements in general are taken into account, for example, how to increase sales of a specific product.
In any case, the result is a precise configuration that perfectly meets the customer's wishes and is considered an aspect of outstanding service by your customers. The result of the optimization is always a suggestion the users can embrace and apply, but also discard.
Before we take a closer look at the different elements of GreenConfiguration in the following section, we need to explain two terms that are relevant for an understanding of the individual elements. Those terms are the assessment of ecological sustainability and environmental accounting.
Assessment if ecological sustainability
The demand for more sustainable products increases. That is why it is now even more important to make information on individual sustainability available to both your sales and your end customers. Ecological sustainability can be evaluated in different ways. The methods used strongly differ in complexity and thus the form of available data and display of results.
There are, for example:
- Energy efficiency classes as one-dimensional code (as e. g. for refrigerators or lightbulbs)
- CO2 kilogram equivalencies to define, evaluate, and summarize the different greenhouse emissions
- Environmental impact points as the result of extensive environmental accounting according to the environmental scarcity method
The framework to identify the eco-balance of a company via environmental accounting is described in the 14040 and 14044 ISO norms. According to those norms, the process of environmental accounting is separated into four phases:
1. Defining the goals and scope of the evaluation: you define the system to be evaluated, its borders, and the level of detail.
2. Creating an inventory: you identify all inputs and outputs of the system.
3. Executing an impact assessment: you can identify the environmental impact of the system based on the inventory in the form of indicator values.
4. Analysis: you discuss the results of the inventory and impact assessment.
In general, the determination of an eco-balance via environmental accounting should result in an evaluation of the environmental impact that is as precise as possible. To achieve this, you need to appreciate environmental accounting as an iterative process during which you need to continuously adjust the system boundaries, influencing factors, assumptions, and methods. This iterative nature conflicts with custom products: here, the system and its boundaries are only defined by the finished configuration.