What is a Product-service system (PSS)

Sustainability is a current global concern. In today’s economy, the challenge lies in dealing with this concern with a new strategy to stimulate change in production and consumption. Recently, there has been a shift in society from mass production to flexible production. Flexible production is to provide services instead of mass-produced products. The goal is a circular economy, which is an industrial economy that is producing no waste or pollution. The product-service system is an example of a strategy aiming at answering the question in a flexible and durable way.

The term product-service system, or PSS, is defined as a marketable set of products and services capable of jointly fulfilling the need that a user has. The product/service ratio in this set can vary, either in terms of function fulfillment or economic value [1]
The goal is to move away from mass standardized production and develop a lease system whereby companies engage in a long term commitment to their clients.

How does this system work?

This system is a way in which products are leased to clients and thereby aiming at long term usage of these products. Companies view the product as a service instead of a commodity.
Various trends in development can be outlined such as
– a focus on the use of the product instead of the product itself
– the change to a lease society (services-oriented)
– the substitution of mass-produced goods by flexible services
– a focus on repairing products instead of throwing them away
– the shift from sales to services [2]

In today’s more service-based economy this system can be easily implemented and refined.

Why a product-service system?

As stated above there are ecological benefits to the product-service system. By changing the industrial production and consumption system in a way whereby there will be less waste the ecological footprint enhances. The focus will be on a long term commitment between the company and the client. Companies will be more willing to repair products and offer better quality with a prolonged product life circle.

Positive aspects, besides the obvious ecological benefits, are the capability of continuous innovation, improved design and quality, and customized goods.[2]

Companies will have to diversify their services on many levels of their production process and new market and communication strategies will be developed. Governments and policy makers can develop new policies and political frameworks to promote product-service systems.

[1] Goedkoop, M.J., van Halen C.J.G., te Riele H.R.M., Rommens P.J.M. Product Service Systems, ecological and economic basis. PriceWaterhouseCoopers N.V. /Pi!MC, Storrm C.S. Pre consultants, 1999

[2] Mont, O.K. Clarifying the concept of product service system. Journal of cleaner production, 2001