Licentiate defence by Abhijna Neramballi

April 28 at 9.15

Read the thesis here.


This licentiate thesis aims to establish the basis for scientifically understanding and supporting the cognitive processes involved in the conceptual design of resource- efficient and effective product-service systems (PSSs). The research carried out is transdisciplinary in nature and includes both prescriptive and descriptive studies.

First, the cognitive nature of conceptual PSS designing is investigated. Multiple pre-experimental protocol studies in a laboratory setting are carried out to do so. The cohort of these explorative studies includes experienced industrial practitioners conceptually designing a resource-efficient PSS. These descriptive studies provide quantitative insights into the cognitive effort expended by designers on various design issues and processes during conceptual PSS designing and its potential differences to conceptual product designing. These insights form the basis for future research that can eventually shine light on this complex process with statistically significant empirical results.

Second, the essence of extant prescriptive PSS design principles, methods and tools is distilled through a literature analysis and synthesis of the state of the art. Subsequently, important aspects that need to be considered during conceptual PSS designing are consolidated in the form of a PSS design schema.

Third, a design navigator named lifecycle-oriented function deployment (LFD) is developed. LFD is essentially a contextual decision-making support tool, developed to guide the conceptual designing of environmentally benign PSSs. This tool informs the designers regarding the potential environmental impacts of specific design parameters of an existing offering. It subsequently guides the designers in the redesign of this existing offering into a PSS with relatively benign environmental impacts.

Fourth, the effects of the two proposed prescriptions are tested empirically. True experimental protocol studies are carried out in a laboratory setting to test the effects of the prescriptive PSS design schema on the cognition of PSS designers. LFD is applied in an industrial case study using the action design research method, to support the conceptual redesign of an existing product-centric offering into an environmentally benign PSS. Environmental impacts of the PSS concepts generated using LFD are then evaluated in comparison to that of the existing offering, using simulated lifecycle assessment. A semi-structured interview is carried out to evaluate the utility and usability of LFD, with the company personnel involved in the conceptual redesign process.

This licentiate thesis is an effort to effectively design the future research work of the author. This future work will aim to support and establish generalizable scientific knowledge regarding the conceptual designing of resource-efficient and effective PSSs.