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Get it right instead of making it good

The strategists at csi are convinced that anyone who believes that they can tick off sustainability by buying carbon certificates is really no up with the times. Sustainable "greenwashing" comes with enormous risks: 
Firstly, it is only a temporary solution which systematically comes at a cost. Secondly, delaying truly sustainable products gives new market players opportunities for growth. Some are already in the starting blocks. So it is more urgent than ever to act sustainably your position in the market now and in future.

csi entwicklungstechnik GmbH has been supporting automotive manufacturers and suppliers in developing future-capable products and concepts and managing the transformation process for over 25 years. From collaborating with customers and also our company’s own knowledge, Steffen Boll and Dr Stefan Herrmann appreciate the enormous potential sustainable business offers and give us an insight in this article.


The next generation of business or no business – that is the question

The mobility of the future needs to be individual, versatile, simple and comfortable, but above all, sustainable. That means being climate-neutral – all the stakeholders agree on this. However, many companies are still unclear as to how to create mobility services and products that are truly environmentally friendly and sustainable. This is fundamentally important as consumers are now demanding responsible solutions. The pressure to act ecologically, that is the "green pressure" exerted on business by politicians and also by consumers, is already very noticeable. It is also set to become greater, through the next generation of buyers and users as well. This "new ecology" is the most powerful megatrend of our time. It is creating a new awareness in more and more people as to how we need to treat our planet for there to be a future. This leads to companies currently focusing more strongly on the well-being of people, society and nature – through sustainable and responsible business. Stakeholders in all sectors – including the mobility industry – face the decision about whether their own company becomes part of this "next generation of business". Or not.


The risk of greenwashing

In the medium term, no company can afford to completely ignore the issue of sustainability. That’s because even today, sustainability requirements are playing an additional new and significant role alongside traditional customer requirements, such as added value at a reasonable price. What is the solution? At the moment, many companies are simply trying to outsource the issue of sustainability or transfer it to others. Either by "greenwashing" their products as an afterthought or by obliging their suppliers to keep the supply chain ‘clean’. However, more and more companies are starting to appreciate that this is not a good idea, and that this transferal tactic represents a real risk. That’s because only companies that regard sustainable business as an opportunity and uncompromisingly base all processes on this principle, will survive. And above all will retain most of their future potential turnover in their own hands. This applies to all sectors, but particularly the mobility industry.


Considering sustainability from the outset

Today, sustainability requirements in the mobility sector are generally taken into consideration too late in the development process – if at all. For instance, we consider the carbon footprint of the raw materials used and evaluate the origin as well as the energy spent in extraction or production. The in-use phase of the product can also be evaluated in terms of sustainability today. Supply chain-based and part list-based approaches are used alongside an analysis of materials, weights, volumes and logistics. This all sounds well and good, but there is an important catch: the above assumes a high degree of product maturity. This contradicts the principle of controlling the influencing variables at a time when they can still be sustainably influenced: in the early phase by so-called front loading.

However, for the promising transformation in the mobility industry to be successful, we need to develop "green" products from the outset. This means they need to be designed from the get-go so that there are no "sustainability hot spots" that need to be compensated for or ironed out further down the line. The only long-term, sensible way is to avoid carbon emissions by front loading in the product design and development processes. This means identifying the weakest links in the process chain in terms of sustainability, taking them into consideration and eliminating them as early as possible. Further comprehensive simulation approaches and system models are needed for this within digital twinning, in addition to traditional domain-specific approaches, such as supply and cost management, product lifecycle management, and so on. In future, good and effective management in the mobility industry must aim for companies to base their own value creation processes on a cybernetic, self-regulating system. The resulting products will then be considered from a "green" perspective from the outset and can be realised accordingly.


Awakening the desire for sustainable changes

The most important prerequisite for this is a fundamental rethink. The issue of sustainability and its importance for the success of a product needs to be instilled into the minds of everyone involved in a project. The attitude that "sustainable means expensive" is far too prevalent – this is both short-sighted and incorrect. As "green pressure" will grow, we can only guarantee that the entire potential future profit will remain within the company through sustainable solutions. So the question is: how can we change this approach and thought process? Two things first need to be clarified: firstly, the future does not simply happen, it comes about through decisions. It is therefore important to make conscious decisions, as they open up new possibilities, while closing others down at the same time. For example: am I looking to develop a sustainable product or do I actually just want to sell the old one sustainably? Secondly, we shouldn’t be focused on the result, but rather on designing our method of reaching the end objective as ideally as possible. Where are changes or adjustments necessary? How do I configure the transition to the new product? How can I stimulate desire and curiosity in the company to consider things differently than before?


csi – part of the next generation of business for over 25 years

These are all questions that csi entwicklungstechnik has been intensively considering for over a quarter of a century. As a reliable sparring partner in the automotive industry, which specialises in design and project management along the digital process chain, this lightweight design specialist has delivered practical and process-ready solutions and concepts from the get-go. With over 500 employees at ten sites across Germany, the team of experts works in the fields of Class A finishes, body work, lightweight construction, interiors, exteriors, electrics/electronics, simulation, and consulting. It also enshrines the issues of sustainability in the company itself. From employee development, energy production at its sites, resource and waste management – responsibility for people, climate and the environment is firmly anchored in the csi’s DNA.



Dr. Stefan Herrmann
Corporate Strategy & Strategic Sales

Dr. Stefan Herrmann, Corporate Strategy & Strategic Sales

Steffen Boll, Managing Director