Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Electronics The Role of Product Development and Purchasing Integration in ECU Sourcing Processes

Examensarbete för masterexamen
Master's Thesis
Supply chain management (MPSCM), MSc
Product development (MPPDE), MSc
Afshari, Ali
Ramic, Erna
In response to a heightened awareness of environmental issues, automotive OEMs have increasingly embraced sustainability trends. Due to the trend of electric and autonomous vehicles, more electronic components are needed to manufacture a single vehicle, contributing significantly to global warming. This necessitates the implementation of mitigation strategies to restrict their adverse environmental effects. Procurement, being responsible for managing the company’s inbound material flow and acting as the initial interface with suppliers, plays a crucial role in a company’s environmental performance. Consequently, it is essential to implement green sourcing practices, such as LCAs, and use their results to inform future sourcing processes. Furthermore, by promoting integration between purchasing and R&D departments, supplier involvement in product development can be facilitated, enabling early response to sustainability issues. Thus, the thesis motivation originated from an automotive company’s ambition to deepen its understanding of sustainable electronics as part of its efforts to manage Scope 3 emissions, with a particular focus on an ECU, which is a complex component integral to vehicle functionality. This single case study endeavors to investigate the sourcing process and the interdepartmental collaboration between R&D and procurement with the aim of minimizing the carbon footprint of the electronic components in ECUs, thereby promoting a proactive approach towards sustainability. To fulfill the research objective, an existing PCF analysis of an advanced ECU was used to pinpoint the environmental hotspots, in this case, logic ICs. In addition, this aspect was further explored by conducting 24 interviews with 22 representatives from the case company and its first-tier supplier. A theoretical framework was devised to guide the development of interview questions. An as-is analysis was undertaken to establish the current status of the case company, serving as a basis for empirical findings and discussions. The empirical data highlighted three main themes: green sourcing strategies, procurement and supplier involvement in product development, and top management support, with the latter being a prerequisite for the successful implementation of the former two. These findings, coupled with the consequent discussion, led to the identification of areas for improvement aimed at enhancing the ECU’s sustainability. Suggestions include reinforcing top management commitment, developing green sourcing collaboration strategies and an electronics-specific supplier environmental questionnaire.
Green sourcing strategies , Cross-functional collaboration , supplier involvement in product development , PCF , electronics , ECU
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