Hire Writer The major issue the company faced was determining the material that was going to be used for the arm-pad skin: PVC was known to be inexpensive and provided to be durable, scratch resistant and soft; but violated the standards of the C2C protocol. PVC had bad press due to its toxicity during manufacturing process and when it was burned or incinerated.
Development and supply chain management teams preferred to proceed with PVC while the design for environment DfE team wanted to press forward with TPU.
De Pree purchased it, renamed it after his father-in-law and grew the company into an internationally acclaimed furniture design house. Herman Miller is considered as one of the top four suppliers in the US office industry that offers suite office furniture including seating, systems furniture, filing, storage, desks, tables and healthcare furniture.
The cradle-to-cradle approach will emulate nature regenerative cycle at the end of the life cycle. C2C redesigned industrial processes by minimizing toxic pollution and reducing waste.
Ina Design for Environmental DfE team was formed to design and develop a new product. Mirra chair would be the most advanced and complete application of the C2C design protocol among any product manufacturer to date. DfE team were evaluating three alternatives: Herman Miller to collect chairs; retailers to collect the chairs; third party company would collect them or customer could return them directly.
Problem identification and analysis The company analyzed that the way their products were designed using the cradle-to-grave process released toxic material into the environment and generated waste that could be minimized or avoided. Tighter environmental regulations help to realized that in order to stay ahead of the game, they needed to change cradle-to-grave for a cradle-to-cradle process.
InHerman Miller decided to implement a design protocol on a product from beginning to end, so Mirra chair project was chosen. Engineers, supply chain managers, manufacturing associates and design consultants worked together to change their processes. Over employees were trained on the new design protocol.
The design process was the first one to be reviewed. During the exploration phase, designers brainstormed on the basic concept of the product and outlined high-level specifications.
Once the basic design was established during the development process, the product was divided into modules and different teams were assigned to each module. Each team developed a prototype of their modules, DfE team assessed the design, following the C2C protocol for material chemistry, disassembly, recyclability and recycled content.
Scorecards See annex 1 were created and feedbacks were communicated to the development team. Calculation of weight and scores were calculated using Exhibit 5 formulas and criteria See annex 3a and 3b.
The importance of these calculations was used to perform a material evaluation assessment. Development engineers and supply chain group preferred PVC material because it was an inexpensive material and the tooling for the PVC arm pads had already been fabricated. Modifications of the original tool were feasible, but it was unclear whether the part quality of the TPU arm pad skins would be consistent as the PVC skins.
The closing loop of the Mirra chair was another relevant issue that concerned the company. Mirra team discussed several options of how to collect the recycling the material of the chair. Three basic options for collecting the chairs were identified: If Herman Miller took the responsibility of collecting the used chairs, it would have to develop logistical support for handling the products coming back to the company.
Recommendations Based on environmental sustainability culture and the triple-bottom-line philosophy adopted by Herman Miller, I would recommend pressing forward with TPU material, which complies with C2C design protocol and continuous improvement policy of no inventory, no waste products and no waste parts and time.
In addition, the company should hire a third party collector in order to avoid developing further logistical support and increase the cost for handling products coming back to the company at the end of its life cycle.
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