Category 18 April 2019

LIMAS - analysis of the real needs of SMEs

Electronics production is a growing industry worldwide. Approximately, 30% of the manufacturing activities are located in China. EU is the second largest player with 21% of the production, followed by USA and Japan with 19% each. This industry is among the most environmentally polluting and it has been initially targeted by the EU through EuP Directive which has promoted eco-designing guidelines. The ErP Directive has lately enlarged the scope of this initiative to any energy-consuming device.

Indeed, it is generally accepted that there is still poor knowledge on environmental legislation within SMEs. As a first approach, an extensive literature review has been carried out about studies that are relevant to innovation and sustainability. In order to have an analysis of the real needs of SMEs in the electronics sector, a survey has been carried out within the LIMAS project. In Spain, the researchers channelled their study through industrial associations, with GAIA (Asociación de Industrias de las Tecnologías Electrónicas y de la Información del País Vasco) giving active support to the study. In Germany, four methods were used to contact the companies: (i) leaflets at the conference of the industrial association FED, (ii) Article in the German-speaking journal “Elektronik”, (iii) cooperation with industrial associations and (iv), ten SMEs from the address book of TUB were contacted directly. As a result, questionnaires from 35 Spanish respondents and 15 German respondents were received.

The survey results highlight that most of the companies keep updated about the environmental legislative requirements, by carrying out internal monitoring through a set of information gathered by external subcontracted services, and/or through information they get from suppliers. In this context, manufacturers demand new tools that will help them to incorporate the new methods and requirements such as LCA, legislative requirements compliance monitoring, results communication, design guidelines, material database, etc. SMEs expect to have access to design guidelines, environmental legislation updates, best available techniques (BAT) in each sector, environmental legislation compliance monitoring, etc. But they also need a benchmarking with regard to their competitors’ designs. Nevertheless, the EuP Directive requires assessing the conformity of the new designs, which is considered as a complex approach to carry out by manufacturers.

The need for a customised software tool was also assessed. A survey, conducted among SMEs, has led to the following requirements: easy to use tool and navigation, common data entry to cover all the relevant aspects, clear results, specific databases for each sector and exportable results. Nevertheless, most of the companies are willing to use an application via the internet. However, price seems to be an important decision criterion. Most companies declare that they would expect to pay less than 500€ for that tool.

It is expected that the use of such a software would improve the manufacturers’ innovation capability : i.e. in their products/processes by providing innovation-related inputs: e.g. compliance with regulations, information about the best available techniques, integration of the environmental aspects in the innovation process, easier external communication of the environmental achievements.


LiMaS. D2.1 SMEs Analysi