Architecture drivers for Circular Economy | Service, solution, device architecture

In a previous article Architecture drivers for Circular Economy; Why sell & forget won’t cut it anymore, I have highlighted the impact of Sustainability & Circular Economy on a business proposition’s architecture and business models. In this article, 2nd in a series of 3, I will discuss a few architectural drivers that are linked to a business model change as argued in the previous article.

Material choices

Service, solution, device architecture | material choices

In some business models, e.g. XaaS model, the ownership of the system used for providing the services will remain with the service providing company. If inferior quality materials are used in the design of service providing equipment, then the risk of equipment break down and consequently service disruption increases. This is an undesirable situation, because when the equipment needs repairing, it would not only bring the service down but will also require travel by the repair and maintenance staff to the customer site, which would be in contradiction to the goals of Sustainability & Circular Economy. Equipment cleaning time also constitutes to service down time and can be affected by the material choices made in the architecture. Therefore, the choice of durable and cleanable materials in equipment design is very important as the service providing company would want to provide un-interrupted service to their clients in line with the Sustainability & Circular Economy goals.

Driver: The equipment architecture should make appropriately durable material choices in line with the business model.

Driver: The architecture and material choices should enable cleaning of the equipment by creating easily reachable and cleanable surfaces that can be quickly cleaned many times.


Usage counting for services

Service, solution, device architecture | usage counting for servicesIn business models such as XaaS, Pay per use etc., the providing company wants to be paid for the value provided through its services. This necessitates the need for the architecture of the service and the equipment to be able to count its usage. This capability is therefore, essential to account usage of the equipment and service so that the customer can be billed appropriately. It is important to note here that in complex systems of equipment and services, usage may have to be inferred from different counters in the system using some algorithm.

Driver: The architecture should identify the data items that indicate usage, extract, and report these data to allow a business to charge the customer for the supplied services.



Service, solution, device architecture | upgradeability

In the move away from the Take-Make-Waste model with e.g the XaaS model, one of the ways to conserve energy and materials in line with Sustainability & Circular Economy, is to keep equipment operational as long as possible. It is possible to uplift equipment functionality by using SW and by upgrading the HW thereby keeping the equipment operational over a longer period of time.

In XaaS, the providing company can provide services for varied purposes and sophistication, that a customer can chose based on their needs. The providing company may offer SW controlled service-level scalability to a customer.

Driver: The architecture must provide capabilities to do partial upgrades of equipment HW and SW.

Driver: The architecture of the equipment and the infrastructure should allow for the service to be updated and upgraded in a modular fashion and do license administration enabling service level scalability.


Preventive maintenance

Service, solution, device architecture | preventive maintenance

To be able to provide reliable services, maintenance work on equipment is important to prevent unexpected equipment failure. Equipment can be serviced periodically in a so-called preventive maintenance, however in this model the equipment may be unnecessarily serviced if the equipment usage was low. The service personnel, therefore, need to assess which parts of the service and equipment need maintenance work and plan to service only the equipment and parts that need servicing.

Driver: The architecture of an equipment must be able to count the usage of equipment and parts of the equipment that need servicing based on usage. The usage data should be communicated to the service personnel remotely.

Driver: The architecture should choose the right granularity of data collection to allow the identification of the parts of the equipment that need maintenance.



Service, solution, device architecture | repairability

It is in the interest of a service providing company to maintain, repair and run equipment reliably for as long as possible. For consumer equipment, repairability is becoming a more important requirement with the Circular Economy awareness and (proposed) legislation towards the “Right to Repair” movement.

Driver: The architecture of the equipment should provide ways to diagnose the fault in equipment.

Driver: The architecture of equipment must therefore make it possible that the repairable part can be easily accessed, repaired without the use of specialist tooling and put back in operation.

Driver: The supply chain architecture should ensure availability of parts for repairing equipment promptly.


Predictive maintenance

Service, solution, device architecture | predictive maintenance

For the service-based business models, it is important to provide reliable services. To be able to do so, the equipment provider must be able to predict when an equipment or part of the equipment is likely to fail. By planning maintenance operations, the down time of the equipment can be reduced, and the logistics of the maintenance operations can be optimized.

Driver: The architecture must be able to measure service and equipment variables that can predict the imminent failure of a service, equipment or part of an equipment.

Driver: The architecture should provide algorithms and infrastructure to run these algorithms to predict equipment/part failure reliably.


In this 2nd article in a series of three, I have highlighted some architecture drivers for services and equipment that a company provides to its customer in a Sustainability and Circular Economy aware world. In the next and final article, I will explore the architecture drives stemming from the take take-back requirements that the Sustainability and Circular Economy will bring.

Previous article: Architecture drivers for Circular Economy; Why sell & forget won’t cut it anymore

Stay tuned, your comments are always welcome.

aly syed philips industry consulting

Dr. Aly Aamer Syed

Consultant Innovation management & System architectures
Industry Consulting, Philips Engineering Solutions