Paving the way for sustainability: The Digital Product Passport

Have you ever wondered what information lies behind the products that shape our daily lives? From smartphones to food packaging, the Digital Product Passport (DPP) aims to show at first glance where a product comes from, how it was manufactured, whether and how it can be repaired. Therefore, the DPP has the potential to positively influence our consumption habits and will continue to be relevant for companies in the future.

Behind the scenes: The Digital Product Passport explained

The concept of the DPP was developed as part of the European Green Deal and the EU Circular Economy Action Plan. While it may sound abstract at first, it is already becoming a central element of sustainable consumption. Similar to a “passport”, it records all significant stages in a product’s lifecycle, offering detailed insights into production, repair, and disposal.

Why is this important?

Imagine being able to trace whether a product was produced sustainably and how environmentally friendly it is at the end of its life when making a purchase—the DPP provides these insights. It is no longer just a concept: the European Union has mandated its implementation, with all industries expected to comply by 2030. The ESG reporting obligation and supply chain law already require companies with more than 500 employees to collect their data. In Germany, the passport will first affect resource-intensive industries such as electronics, electric vehicles, industrial batteries, textiles, construction, packaging, and plastics.

What does the Digital Product Passport entail?

The German Institute for Standardization (DIN) and the German Commission for Electrical, Electronic, and Information Technologies (DKE) have set up a committee for the Digital Product Passport, aiming to define the technical design requirements for the DPP. This encompasses, for example, information carriers with standardized identifiers for the product, information on environmental impacts, durability, materials, suppliers, and more. To enable the adaption to different product groups and industries with a wide variety of data, the DPP requires a corresponding modular architecture.

How the Digital Product Passport will influence consumer behavior

The DPP offers consumers a clear view of a product’s entire journey, from creation to disposal or recycling. Its contribution to transparency could impact our consumption habits significantly. For example, by providing easy insight into environmental impacts, it encourages consumers to choose long-lasting products. Various levels of detail enable tailoring information to different target groups.

The DPP as a driver of sustainable circular economy

The DPP is more than just a passport for products: it drives sustainable growth in the circular economy. The Product Passport optimizes the product lifecycle, promotes standardization and sustainable design, improves resource and recycling efficiency, and helps with environmentally friendly procurement.

The DPP in business

For companies, it is important to prepare for the introduction of the DPP at an early stage. PLM systems like CIM Database PLM and advanced IT solutions alleviate much of the work. For instance, they can calculate LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) data directly from bills of materials and work plans and use material compliance methods to ensure safe material selection. IoT systems like CONTACT Elements for IoT provide additional production data, contributing to effective energy management.

A strategic step for a sustainable future?

The Digital Product Passport is not just a source of information but provides consumers with solid information to make responsible purchasing decisions. Companies can successfully prepare for DPP standards by expanding their PLM systems and IT solutions. Therefore, the Digital Product Passport is a strategic step and a guiding necessity for a sustainable future.

You can find a more in-depth take on the Digital Product Passport right here on the CONTACT Research Blog.

How PLM paves the way for sustainable product development

In today’s sustainability-driven world, ensuring transparency and traceability across the entire product lifecycle is crucial. Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) helps to tackle these challenges by providing a solid data foundation for informed decisions.

Challenges for companies: regulations and customer demands

Companies are often faced with regulatory challenges that influence the development of strategies and products. The European Green Deal and the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) provide a corresponding framework. At the same time, customers demand solutions that support sustainable product development, and the call for a green transformation grows louder. But how can companies take this step?

Companies in the green transition

The green transition is a monumental task for the industry. Sustainable development, as defined by the 1987 Brundtland Report, becomes a guiding principle. The goal is to meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations. With sustainable design as a core element of this movement, economic and ecological dimensions are aligned. Unlike approaches like Eco-design, Sustainable Design also integrates ethical aspects, human rights, and social justice, such as social aspects in the supply chain.

PLM as a key for sustainable product design

Every product goes through various lifecycle phases where decisions regarding material selection, design, and manufacturing processes are made. PLM systems like CIM Database PLM enable the consideration of sustainability principles as early as the design phase. Reducing waste, efficient use of energy, and recycling become integral parts starting from early design processes.

Read more about how PLM contributes to sustainable product development here.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and PLM: An unmatched combination

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is another central approach for the evaluation of environmental impacts. By quantifying and assessing environmental impacts across the entire lifecycle of a product, companies can identify environmental aspects and potential effects.

PLM as a structural guide for sustainable products

The product structure, also known as Bill of Materials (BOM), is utilized by PLM as a structured guide. It enables accurate assessment of environmental impacts across the entire product range. Material properties, work schedules, and data aggregation support the selection of sustainable materials.

Material Compliance: Mastering regulations more easily

The selection of materials must not only be environmentally friendly but also legally compliant. This is where Material Compliance comes into play. A PLM system enables the management of product structures and material data as well as a smooth implementation of material compliance through the traceability of used materials.

Digital Product Passport for the circular economy

Transparency about materials and products is crucial for a successful circular economy. The Digital Product Passport acts as a carrier of information from the PLM system and provides a foundation for GHG reporting. The Asset Administration Shell (AAS) serves as a standardized technology for information exchange.

PLM for a sustainable future

Through a holistic view of the lifecycle, impacts and risks can be detected, assessed, and ultimately avoided at an early stage. CONTACT Research is committed to more sustainable product development in order to shape a harmonious future. Let’s tackle the challenges of sustainable product development together and leave a positive impact on the world!

Read the full article on the CONTACT Research Blog here.

Digitalization for the High Seas

The sun is shining in Hamburg, and the mild autumn air is in motion – even though I am perfectly equipped for rainy weather. In early October, shipbuilders from around the world gather in a conference hotel near the harbor for the CADMATIC Digital Wave Forum. The user meeting invites participants to experience CADMATIC’s CAD application for shipbuilding firsthand and to learn about current trends, product innovations, and new developments. The highlight: CADMATIC Wave, an integrated CAD/PLM solution specifically designed for shipbuilding and jointly developed by CADMATIC and CONTACT.

Model visualization simplifies data retrieval and collaboration

After our first coffee, we slowly make our way into the conference hall. The morning is filled with numbers and facts around CADMATIC’s digitalization strategy. In the afternoon, our Managing Director Maximilian Zachries presents CADMATIC Wave to the 200 participants. As we demonstrate the first functionalities of the integrated Product Data Management (PDM), some attendees quickly pull out their phones to snap a photo of the feature. I am somewhat excited – now it’s official. Now we also need the data model. And that isn’t quite so simple.

Cadmatic's Atte Peltola introduces the audience to Cadmatic Wave

CADMATIC’s Atte Peltola presents CADMATIC Wave. (© CADMATIC)

The resounding call for a data model for shipbuilding carries me through the three days in Hamburg. During my conversations with industry colleagues, it becomes evident that the information required and generated in the shipbuilding process must be able to be mapped within the model. Model-centric is the magic word: the ship’s geometry is visualized, including equipment, fittings, and logistics. Information can then be retrieved and added via the specific parts of the model. Model visualizations provide a shared and intuitive view of the ship for all involved trades, significantly simplifying information retrieval. This enhances the efficiency of engineering activities and collaboration, also with partners.

Basing a data model on ship geometry is challenging

Engaged in a discussion with a research associate from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), we stumble upon a question: Is the geometry model even suitable for generating a generic product structure for data storage in the PDM? After all, as a placeholder in a data model, there are quite a few locations in such a ship. And let me put it this way: data models are typically organized along the processes in product creation, not the geometry of a ship model. I am curious to see how we will solve this challenge in CADMATIC Wave.

The evening event takes place on the Cap San Diego, a museum ship in the Hamburg harbor. The rustic flair of a ship’s belly and the lavish buffet create a cozy atmosphere for lively conversations. We talk about life in Finland and Norway and the difference between information and data management. The evening ends stormy and rainy, and I finally put my rain gear to good use and return to the hotel dry and warm.

SEUS brings European shipbuilding to a new efficiency level

At the CADMATIC Digital Wave Forum, I also meet my consortium partners from the Smart European Shipbuilding (SEUS) project for the first time. Among them are representatives from NTNU and CADMATIC, as well as employees from two shipyards, the Norwegian Ulstein Group and the Spanish Astilleros Gondan SA. SEUS is an EU-funded research project with the goal of developing an integrated CAD and PLM solution for shipbuilding. This endeavor goes way beyond the functionalities we develop in CADMATIC Wave. For instance, we aim to incorporate knowledge management and utilize AI for searching within product data.

In this context, the broad positioning of our research department, CONTACT Research, works to our advantage. Our focus areas include not only Digital Lifecycle Management, where we conduct research on digitalization strategies for various industries, but also Artificial Intelligence. The AI product data search we aim to implement in SEUS allows us to bring our self-declared motto to life: “Bringing artificial intelligence into the engineering domains.”

As three days in Hamburg come to an end, three strong impressions remain:

  1. It is necessary to design an abstract data model for shipbuilding. One that contains the modules of a ship and yet can be customized to fit the specific needs of any shipbuilder. This data model must be closely linked to the development process.
  2. Personal exchange and meeting each other face to face have been an enriching experience for me in this new work area. This positive feeling motivates me for my future work in the SEUS project.
  3. In Hamburg, rain gear is a must.