Product-service systems for greater resource efficiency and productivity

Services are the primary source of income in industrialized nations today – not least due to the substantial growth and innovation potential inherent in this sector. Services and product-service systems create the preconditions for improving the profitability of the companies involved, not only through the products as such, but in addition, largely or even entirely, through certain services or functions assumed by the provider.

To benefit the customer, product-service systems focus neither on the purely physical product nor the process result as such, i. e. the output of the production process, but a combination of product and service which is designed to solve a customer-specific problem. How this problem is solved, however, is very diverse. In some concepts, a key element is that the product remains within the property of the provider, whereas in others the customer still owns the product, but the provider of the PSS grants a certain level of system availability. This enables the participating companies to concentrate merely on those resources or core competencies which are relevant for their competitiveness. This concentration should allow permanent competitive advantages to be developed and result in higher and more stable earnings over time. 

The representative German Manufacturing Survey conducted by the Fraunhofer ISI in 2009 showed that there are still large potentials for the resource-intensive sectors, particularly when offering services. The starting point therefore was to examine where it makes sense to integrate product-service systems into the value chain and what contribution they can make to conserving resources. A workshop was held and a study compiled as part of the accompanying research to analyse the drivers for and obstacles to the use of product-service systems from the viewpoint of both the service provider and the customer and identify the essential success factors for their implementation.