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Purpose of Panasonic's Factor X
Factor X only presents one available option for product evaluation purposes. The demands imposed on the development of environmentally conscious products are to maximize product value (the benefits obtainable from the product or the functions it offers over its entire life cycle) and to minimize the impact of the product on the global environment. 'Environmental efficiency' is an indicator that specifies this concept. Factor X will therefore reach its full potential after advances are made in environmental efficiency.
The horizontal-axis represents 'environmental impact ratio E (product to be evaluated/benchmark product)' and the vertical-axis represents 'product function ratio P.' Panasonic carries out evaluations of the environmental efficiency of products by comparing their total benefits and total environmental impact. In those cases where we consider product functions and environmental impact separately, we assess improvement of product function and reduction of environmental impact by independently quantifying and comparing the functions provided by the product divided by product life and we likewise assess the environmental impact of the product over its life cycle divided by product life. Accordingly, environmental impact in this graph represents the total impact of a product over its entire life cycle.
Factor X can be expressed by using the 'environmental impact ratio E' and 'product function ratio P.' The upper left, green area above the oblique line at the center of the graph shows that Factor X has a value of one or greater. The green area can be divided into the following three areas, depending on whether E and P are greater than one or less than one.
- Product function improves and environmental impact declines
- Environmental impact declines but product function also declines
- Product function improves but environmental impact increases
Area (1), where product function improves and environmental impact declines, is the level we aim to reach in product development. If a product falls in area (2), its environmental impact declines but its function also declines, it may fail to meet customer requirements. If a product falls in area (3), its product function improves but its environmental impact increases, this is undesirable in terms of environmental conservation. Factor X has a value of one or greater in both (2) and (3), but we must develop technologies aiming to meet the requirements of (1).
This graph provides more concrete guidelines for our product development using Factor X. The horizontal-axis represents the environmental impact ratio and the vertical-axis represents the product function ratio (same as the first graph). If the benchmark product is located at point Z, the line OZ, which connects the origin O and Z, represents Factor 1 (F = 1).
For example, if we set the next model development target to Factor 2 or greater, we must meet the design requirements shown by the upper left area above line L (slope tan ? expresses Factor X), which connects the origin O, point A (0.5, 1) and point B (1, 2). The three small areas (G, H, and K) are enclosed by line L, the line that passes through point Z parallel to the horizontal-axis (extension of line AZ), and the line that passes through point Z parallel to the vertical-axis (extension of line BZ), and each represents different product features.
There are no problems with the hatched area G at the center, where products have higher performance than the benchmark product and less environmental impact. However, products with less environmental impact but reduced performance are placed in the lower left area, H, while those with the opposite features are placed in the upper right area, K. We must continue development processes for products in these areas (H, K) until they can be moved into area G. As shown by the colored tracks on the graph, product functions can gradually improve, aiming at Factor 2 or greater. In this process, the purple or cream-colored tracks are the most desirable, but light blue tracks may also be acceptable. If we lay too much emphasis on the Factor X target, we won't be able to develop products placed in area J, enclosed by points A, B, and Z, even though they are well-balanced products.
The use of Factor X won't be able to provide independent product development guidelines if we fail to establish evaluation standards for environmental impacts or functions. Also, we must set targets based on an accurate understanding of performance improvement processes. In order to efficiently adopt Factor X in design and development processes, we need to be based on practical experiences in design and development departments. We are making ongoing efforts to enable Factor X to be utilized in Green Product development.
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