Learning network Economy Connect boosts your efforts on circular economy

circulaire economie

A ‘factory of the future’ is circular. Whatever the motives are - reducing material costs, anticipating new laws, responding to changing customer demands, reducing the ecological footprint - in the long term companies will definitely move towards more circular business models. The learning network Circular Economy Connect is here to help you out.

The pioneers are already on it, but they are still encountering obstacles. However, if you wait too long you risk being thrown off the market. Small-scale experiments can allow you to figure out what does and does not work. Despite the recent ‘boom’ in circular economy studies and consultants, there are no ready-made formulas (yet) to implement the principles of circular economy on the shop floor. Companies can probably mainly learn from each other’s good and not so good experiences.

That is why, in the autumn of 2016, Sirris and Agoria launched Circular Economy Connect, a learning network about circular economy for and from technology companies. The focus lies on re-manufacturing - the reworking of old products to a new state - a servitisation - selling a service or result instead of a product.

Cross-fertilization and best practices

In the learning network a fixed group of like-minded companies - AW Europe, Agfa Graphics, Atlas Copco, Barco, BSH Home Appliances, Daikin and ETAP - meet four times spread over one year. The interaction between the companies allows for cross-fertilization and helps to find concrete solutions for shared challenges. International experts on the matter contribute additional knowledge and inspiration to the network. Under the guidance of an experienced coach the participants are triggered to translate the acquired knowledge into tangible next steps which they want to take to achieve a more circular way of doing business. This exercise is also worked on in between the meetings.

(Source : European Remanufacturing Network)

At the kick-off of Circular Economy Connect three international top experts shared their insights about what re-manufacturing is exactly, what the strategic arguments are to invest in it, how re-manufacturing can be linked to business model innovation, what a number of good practices are from the technological industry, but also what the obstacles are that companies have to deal with.


Re-manufacturing allows companies to reduce their impact on the environment. But more importantly, by offering cheaper, higher quality re-manufactured products, a company can respond to customer demands with more flexibility. An interesting insight of the experts was to take after-sales-services as a basis. Companies with an adequately developed service business know their installed base and can easily take their products off the market and valorise them again through re-manufacturing.

BSH Home Appliances presented a case about their successful project in Belgium concerning the reuse and repairs of household appliances in cooperation with the recycling sector and about the first ideas about leasing models for one of the high-end appliances in their range.

During this first session of Circular Economy Connect the group identified a number of challenges to investigate further:

  • access to products for re-manufacturing and reversed logistics
  • changes in business model and in relation with the customer
  • risk and change management
  • product design (design for a longer life cycle, for repairs, for re-manufacturing, for recycling)

The second session of Circular Economy Connect took place at AW Europe in Baudour. More about this later.

Do you not want to stay behind and also put your first steps towards circular economy? Let us know! In the autumn we will start with a second cycle of Circular Economy Connect and you can hop on.  

(Source picture above : AW Europe)