Loewe Technologies GmbH develops, manufactures and sells high-quality home entertainment systems. The product range includes televisions, Blu-ray players, DVD recorders, hard disk recorders, multi-room systems, speakers and racks. In response to the trend moving away from individual products and towards complete home entertainment systems, Loewe characterises its products as highly adaptable to customer needs (size, sound system, control, design, multimedia features, etc.).
Loewe products aim to combine high-tech, design, quality and ease of use. Emphasis is placed on sustainable growth, systems are designed to last and to have low energy consumption. Modular technology, premium materials and regular software updates all feature as part of Loewe's design approach.
Loewe customers typically purchase a new television to acquire the latest features, not because their old one has stopped functioning, which offers Loewe the potential to capture more value from its products. During the ResCoM project, Loewe explored the business case for capturing this additional value from its ‘Connect ID’ television range. This entailed extending the use of the product by offering performance upgrades that would not compromise on the high quality expected by its customers.
Outcomes of the ResCoM Pilot
The fast pace of technology advances offers both an opportunity and a challenge for Loewe. While investigating an upgrade model for the ‘Connect ID’ television, a crucial challenge was to understand how the technology and the demands of users can change over time. By designing for upgrade so that the latest features can be added to the product, the time that the equipment can remain functional as a primary television could be doubled.
Motivations for being part of ResCoM
The Upgrade Forecast was used to help determine upgrade specifications to include in the product design. Design for upgradability is intimately linked to design for modularity, with modules that can be replaced or added. The Loewe-specific upgrade forecast was created to forecast six different functionalities for the television over two five-year periods. This allowed the Loewe team to extrapolate trends to support the design for upgradability. The Multiple Lifecycle Product Design tool provided insight on how to create a modular product that could more easily be upgraded. In this process, modules were classified from the point of view of customer experience, forthcoming technological evolution and operational performance. This classification allowed Loewe to understand which modules should be designed for reusing, upgrading, and recycling respectively. As the result of using the tools, during the design phase Loewe could define how the future generation of Connect ID TVs may look, and could inform the specifications of an upgradable television.
The Multimethod Simulation tool enabled Loewe to look ahead and get an understanding of the long-term economic and environmental performance if they start to offer performance upgrades for their televisions through software and hardware. The outcome showed that through upgrading, Loewe is most likely to reduce their carbon footprint and overall cost of operations, as well as increase profitability compared to their current model. However, it was also assessed that significant investment would be needed to improve the current design of the Connect ID to make it upgradeable.
The Loewe case study highlighted the importance of considering design-for-upgrade early in the development process. As updates will affect many aspects of the television’s functionality, the need to involve an interdisciplinary team in the design phase was imperative, including representatives from software, hardware, distribution, service, and user interface.
The Upgrade Forecast tool demonstrated potential for Loewe to implement modular design for upgradability. Some of these learnings will be taken forward in Loewe’s future design process to enable more easily adaptable products. Given that both hardware and software development are under Loewe’s control, there is the possibility to implement more of the ResCoM learnings into its product portfolio in future. An issue that Loewe will explore further as well is how to market the upgradeable products in an attractive way.