Sustainable Hardware Engineering

No matter the client I work with, Sustainable Hardware Engineering is my guiding work statement.

Everyone has their own interpretation of “sustainable”. To me, it is finding an optimal balance  for economic, ecological and social sustainability in the hardware development team and product.

                                                 Photo by Paula Prekopova on Unsplash

Economic Sustainability

Support long term economic growth to repay investments, initial cost of development and recurrent maintenance and operational cost 

Reduce resources required and indirect costs, total-cost-of ownership as key performance indicator, reduction of operational costs

Ecological Sustainability

Manufacturing and operation are optimized to not compromise the capacity of the ecosystems (air, water, land, biodiversity), 

Material selection includes ecological aspects, design optimizes for circularity, reduction of resources used for manufacturing

Social Sustainability

Foster equality, diversity and democracy, improve the quality-of-life for employees and communities affected by the product

Implement fair and equal pay, provide for health and safety, lead by example, foster competencies, meaning and impartiality.

How does this relate to Hardware Development - thoughts to start with:

When “Sustainability” is anchored in a company's moral compass and supported by management, the implementation in hardware development could start with below points.

  • Train the hardware development team on Sustainability and Design for Sustainability 

  • Implement Design for Sustainability into the Product- and Engineering Requirements

  • Standardize operation by maintenance documentation, playbooks and implementing data based predictive maintenance

  • Analyze and optimize supply chain, implement key performance indicators in supplier assessments, use alternative sourcing

  • Analyze and optimize supply chain logistics e.g. by using data prediction models and route optimization

  • Implement circular economy strategies and evaluate material alternatives on their environmental footprint

  • Re-think internal behaviors regarding energy consumption, consumption in resources e.g. paper, printing or rapid prototyping 

  • Implement feedback and retrospectives into the teams daily habits

  • Plan and grow the team focused on individual strengths and complimentary skills, create transparency of skills and expert levels

  • include the team into major decisions, create an working environment of transparency, freedom and responsibility

  • Foster cross-industry exchange on best practices, include sustainability in feedbacks, retros and further team education

Additional Resources:

  • UN Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development


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