By identifying and measuring different impacts, companies can find a clear and transparent way to move towards goals such as enabling products with lower impact on the environment, and more effective communication of environmental matters, both internally and externally. When a company’s environmental communications are refined, they can also improve portrayed image in terms of sustainability and help you find ways of working that are more in line with the company’s stakeholders’ preferences.
Effective environmental solutions require wide-ranging expertise. Comatec’s Life Cycle Support and Environmental Services’ new expert service provides customers with this – and more.
Our Life Cycle Support and Environmental Services offer customers calculation models in line with life cycle thinking, as well as environmental management and circular economy services. Comatec’s experts help customers to implement environmental sustainability in accordance with life cycle thinking and to thus reduce the environmental impact of their operations.
– We create concrete, goal oriented environmental solutions that make our customers’ business more profitable and environmentally friendly. Among other things, this objective can be achieved through continuous development of the environmental systems in use and stakeholder friendly communications, explains Sami Sahimäki from Comatec’s Life Cycle Support and Environmental Services.
Life cycle assessment, or LCA, is a standardized method used to assess the environmental impacts of a certain product throughout its life cycle. LCA is always applied to a certain, clearly delineated system and may include things such as the raw material inputs required for manufacturing the product in question, the manufacturing itself, distribution, or use. Identifying the environmental impacts associated with the system allows companies to find out which processes cause the most strain on the environment. Furthermore, it helps them to implement justified measures to reduce this strain. There are also commercial benefits to identifying environmental impacts, as the results of the assessment can be used in marketing or for preparing environmental declarations, for example, to secure market access.
Life cycle inventory, or LCI, is an important part of LCA. It represents the part of the process where relevant data is collected to perform the assessment itself. In addition to this, the assessment may include reviewing existing environmental reports and documents such as recycling guidelines in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the company’s manufacturing and disposal processes and their impacts.
– The results of the inventory are used for performing the assessment itself. In impact assessment, the collected data is then divided into specific impact categories, such as Global Warming Potential (GWP). In this case, the environmental impact can be interpreted using just one indicator, namely carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq), Sahimäki explains.
The results can be reinterpreted by making changes to the inventory data used, which in turn can help the company to find solutions that reduce the environmental impact of their operations. Comparing different solutions allows companies to find out how they should change their product or manufacturing process in order to reach the desired goals. This also allows comparisons between the effects different changes have on environmental impacts and other factors, such as costs.
Comatec performed a lifecycle assessment for John Deere Forestry’s machine models in the spring of 2022. The assessment provided the company with comprehensive information on the environmental impacts of the different models.
– The product structure was very extensive and detailed, as machines used in forestry work include many different components. Due to the sheer amount of data to be processed, the project took some time, but carefully collecting the data also means that the LCA can also be easily updated, refined or expanded in the future, says project leader and Senior Sustainable Design Specialist Aleksi Surakka.
The inventory provided valuable information on the material distribution of the machine, material transports performed during the manufacturing process, as well as the mission profile. The results of the environmental impact assessment revealed the stages of the lifecycle with the highest impacts. The assessors also dove deep into the manufacturing details to identify the components with the greatest impact. The assessment also made it possible to identify the component manufacturing processes that produced some of the impacts.
– The information provided by the customer was paramount for this project. Data on subjects such as production, mission profile, transports and the maintenance program made it possible for us to produce a high-quality assessment, says System Verification Specialist Anne Kotalampi.
– In addition, frequent discussions with the customer ensured that we collected relevant, high-quality an up-to-date information, Sahimäki adds.
A follow-up assessment performed in fall 2022 used the LCA results to create a clear sustainability indicator that would be especially illustrative in terms of environmental sustainability. This indicator helps the company to monitor its use of sustainable materials, recyclability and thus better understand how far along they are on their sustainability journey.
– The project was designed to ensure that the assessment data could be reused, replicated and adapted to perform comparisons in the future, Surakka says.
– For us, the project was a very interesting experience. Our team gained additional experience on how we should deal with extensive product structures. We were able to put our software to a real test, and now we know what it can really do, Sahimäki sums up.
In addition to the life cycle assessment itself, Comatec also provided John Deere Forestry Oy staff with tailored LCA training events where the employees were able to learn more about the theory behind life cycle assessment by using the company’s own products as examples.
– The training was liked, and it generated a lot of discussion. It is important that everyone understands the effects of the environmental impacts. Training events like this offer attendees an opportunity to learn more about their own products, Surakka says.
In addition to life cycle assessments of different scopes, Comatec’s experts provide support for all your environmental development project needs. Our goal is always to help our customers to seamlessly integrate environmental sustainability perspectives into their own operations.