With respect to Eco-innovation & Eco-efficiency new indicators setting, many tools are currently commercially available trying to cover most of the aspects of relevance for SMEs. Nevertheless, these tools focus on specific fields (e.g. LCA, legal compliance, etc.) in a separated way and SMEs have to face lack of information to fill in all the required data by these complex tools. In addition, some tools have not an intuitive use, require a high environmental knowledge to work successfully, are over-dimensioned for SMEs needs and do not link product and production data.
To face these issues, the LWS tool has been developed under the coordination of Simpple within the CIP Eco-innovation project titled LiMAS. Simpple is a technological company based in Spain, specialised in Eco-Innovation and software development.
LiMaS WebSuite includes several modules in order to carry out the complete product data analysis. These modules include: a simplified Life Cycle Assessment (e.g. carbon footprint of a product); Legislative compliance (e.g. Directives on Eco-design requirements or on waste electrical and electronic equipment); Hazardous substances monitoring; prioritisation of environmental aspects for Environmental management and Environmental communication alternatives. All these modules have an integrated structure and allow the user to enter a small amount of information into an initial questionnaire and thus obtain a series of initial results and recommendations regarding the aforementioned environmental issues.
This initial evaluation is based on a series of suppositions and calculation assumptions, but the user is be able to fine tune the accuracy and detail of the responses obtained for each specified module by reviewing the suppositions and adding more detailed and realistic information. This web based tool has been designed to enable “technical staff” or “engineers” (who can not be necessarily “environmental experts”) to handle and interpret results.
For developing LWS, an initial analysis of the real needs of SMEs from Spain and Germany was carried out, analysing their situation with respect to used information, staff skills, legal compliance, used tools, etc. Thus, a first assessment of the environmental situation of SMEs and their software needs was obtained. Then, an evaluation of the available software tools for Environmental Assessment, Eco-design and Compliance Management was also carried out to find the niche for the proposed approach. This approach has been initially implemented in some independent desktop tools (i.e. EuPeco-profiler tool for LCA and Microsoft EXCEL applications for the other issues), which are offered for free in the project website. After testing this approach, the integrated web based tool (i.e. LiMaS WebSuite) has been developed and validated in 1 German and 4 Spanish SMEs.
LWS will be commercialized by Simpple through one specific website (i.e. limas.simpple.com), which offers information and specialised support in the mentioned environmental issues. A demo version of the web tool (i.e. beta version) is offered for free in order to let the potential users to test the tool and suggest deeper improvements for the future commercial version. This commercial version of LWS will be released after a testing period (i.e. January-July 2012), and it will include the update of relevant legislation and new features. So, a level 8 in the TRL scale can apply to this tool. LWS is well suited for manufacturers of energy-using and electric-electronic product, with an especial emphasis for SMEs.