Process Optimization with Foresight: Digital Product Passport

The Digital Product Passport (DPP) won’t be mandatory for certain products until 2027. Nevertheless, it makes sense to start engaging with it today. Those who invest in this digital solution now will, with foresight, benefit in multiple ways and find it easier to comply with both current and future legal regulations. Read on to find out why.

Device Insight at Hannover Messe 2017

The digital passport is an optimal tool for making relevant data available along the entire value chain. In addition to any information you would typically find on a type plate, it can also include details about the CO2 footprint or user instructions – all without any gaps, loss of information, or high costs. This gives manufacturers the opportunity to optimize their processes and products, a benefit that resonates well across many companies! Moreover, it allows them to streamline their own data management – for enhanced compliance and adherence to regulations, whether those laws apply today, tomorrow, or only starting in 2030.

Why is the Digital Product Passport so important for my company?

In short, the Digital Product Passport (DPP) is intended to maintain product data in a uniform and transparent manner. This structured dataset will describe the entire lifecycle of the product. The information can then be accessed by all relevant stakeholders – from producers and their suppliers to consumers and regulatory bodies or institutions. In our view, the Digital Product Passport is indispensable in the context of the Twin Transition. It is a tool designed to meet the dual challenge posed by the coupling of digitalization and sustainability.

Digital Product Passport: One tool, many advantages

Transparency and simplified data exchange are the core arguments for the Digital Product Passport. Moreover, this digital solution also boasts the following features:

  • The information in the Digital Product Passport can be utilized not only along the value chain but also directly within your company. An additional service, new product variations, or even an entirely new business model? All these scenarios can be explored based on the information in the DPP.
  • A primary goal of the Digital Product Passport is to promote the circular economy. It is embedded in the European Eco-design Regulation (ESPR). The digital association bitkom has it in a nutshell: Standard practices should involve the repair, reuse, repurposing, and recycling of goods rather than disposal.
  • CSRD, AI Act, Data Act, Supply Chain Act: The number of regulations and reporting obligations seems to rise as quickly as the thermometer in the spring sun. If their implementation causes headaches, the Digital Product Passport could offer a solution by providing many relevant details directly.

According to a YouGov study, 71% of respondents see the greatest responsibility for sustainability lying with large companies—possibly within your area of responsibility as well. Therefore, seizing the opportunity with the DPP could allow you to contribute by helping consumers make the most sustainable choices possible.

The Digital Product Passport at a glance:

What exactly is a Digital Product Passport (DPP)? Numerous projects are currently underway to make this key element of the Twin Transition more concrete and standardized. The Digital Product Passport is often described as a sort of “certified resume of a product.” The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety, and Consumer Protection (Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, nukleare Sicherheit und Verbraucherschutz, BMUV) uses the following definition : “The Digital Product Passport is a dataset that summarizes the components, materials, and chemical substances or information about repairability, spare parts, or proper disposal for a product. The data come from all phases of the product lifecycle and can be used in all these phases for various purposes (design, manufacturing, usage, disposal).”

To make this more tangible, consider this example: If you’re getting your garden ready for spring, you might also clean your gas grill or lawnmower. Take a closer look at the device. How many – large and small – components does it consist of? Are they all produced by one manufacturer? At the same location? Are there wearing parts or consumables? Do you have the instruction manual to hand? What about the warranty? All these questions can be answered with a few clicks using a Digital Product Passport. Some of this information is more relevant for the B2B side, while others are for you or customer service.

From the automotive industry to textile manufacturers

Much of the design of the Digital Product Passport sounds like a faraway dream and vague ideas on the drawing board. However, sooner or later, it will affect a wide variety of products and industries. Due to the diversity and heterogeneity of the products, it will need to meet a variety of requirements in the future. And yes, not everyone will benefit equally. According to surveys, smaller companies initially see the DPP as a significant additional effort but would actually benefit disproportionately. Through the Digital Product Passport, small and medium-sized enterprises gain simplified access to Industry 4.0.

Interoperability as a prerequisite for the DPP

The availability of information requires interoperability, where clear standards for data models and interfaces are used. The Open Industry 4.0 Alliance therefore sees the DPP as part of the  Asset Administration Shell (AAS). You can read about the benefits of the AAS as a universal tool in this blog post. Specifically, the information from the Digital Product Passport can be represented in various submodels:

  • ● In a submodel that meets the requirements of the standardized digital nameplate
  • In submodels containing information in accordance with ESPR, the European Eco-Design Regulation
  • In submodels for additional digital services, some with restricted data access

On the path to the DPP: Your next steps

Transparency across the supply chain, opportunities for leaner processes, and a foundation for new business models: The Digital Product Passport offers many advantages to the industry and contributes to sustainable, resource-efficient growth over the long term. If you share this view, then we should discuss topics such as a data strategy, interoperability, and your initial ideas for using the DPP. Perhaps at a barbecue in your freshly mowed garden?

As experts in digitalization, you’re in the right place with us. We provide consultation on Digital Twin, Asset Administration Shell, and the Digital Product Passport from the ground up. Or, we can assist with specific implementation desires, such as smart energy management which can also be tackled in the spirit of the Twin Transformation with the DPP.

PS: Those who want to keep up with the developments of the DPP can receive regular updates in the Austrian platform Industry 4.0 “DPP Check-In”.

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