Welcome back! This is our fourth post in the Leapfrog Project series. Today, we’ll take a look at another success story with Duc Thanh company as part of the Sustainable Product INnovation (SPIN) project we’ve been supporting in Vietnam.
Established on May 19th, 1991, Duc Thanh is one of the leading manufacturers in Vietnam specializing in producing wooden kitchenware, household utensils, home furniture, children’s toys and other customized products.
Duc Thanh Company asked the SPIN experts for technical assistance on both market ant sustainability aspects, to develop a sustainable design collection for their business in 2014.
The new collection is indulged with the trend of sustainable design to reduce the environmental impacts of our products. By supporting the environmental protection, we would like to contribute our humble changes to our ecological system
said Ms. Duong from Duc Thanh Company.
To achieve this ambitious goal, Duc Thanh worked with Hoang TRAN, a young SPIN designer supported by SOLIDWORKS Sustainability to design a range of products that is not only sustainable, useful but also beautiful.
The new collection is a range of 7 kitchen items. They should be all functional, but also contemporary and with a timeless style.
The design concept was to create objects that are “Sharp with clever design that is not heavy, bulky and rounded, and uses the available material in an optimal way.” says Hoang.
The target was a mid-market customer, so a bit higher segment than Duc Thanh is now supplying to.
The Sustainable Design Dimensions
Hoang, together with the company’s designers and stakeholders decided to focuses their design on 4 main sustainable design dimensions.
- Using Recycled Material: Most of Duc Thanh Company products are made with rubber wood, recycled after rubber production.
- Local Material: Duc Thanh wants to create a Vietnamese brand based on Vietnamese plantation wood. However, due to lack of side material suppliers, they still need to import from China or Taiwan while looking for more local suppliers for other materials.
- Material Reduction: The design had been though in order to use the materials as economically as possible. For example creating designs that fit the wood sizes Duc thanh can buy to create least leftovers. They also worked on using the leftovers from bigger products for smaller ones. Finally, they designed products by minimizing the thickness of the parts, so the amount of material is reduced and the product is weight-lighted for transportation.
- Simple Parts: The products designs are mostly rectangular flat pieces of wood, saving many manufacturing steps, material and making them easy to manufacture, preventing working accident.
- Energy Efficient: Duc Thanh is still working on saving electricity in production by replacing new machines that uses solar energy for example. They also work on calculating and preparing sufficient materials and labor force to use full capacity of the machines in production to save time and energy, in a safe process.
- Reduce transport: The different suppliers are located near the assembly manufacturing workshop, in Vietnam or South East Asia region, which reduce the transportation steps and distances.
- Preserve Local Culture: Vietnamese traditional culture of wood handicraft is sustained and employees are encouraged to do research, give ideas to improve the production into an effective process.
- Responsible Customers: Social and environmental aspects are considered along the entire life cycle of the products to raise awareness from workers to consumers. Duc Thanh also clearly explains to their customer: “that we do use the wood economically so as to keep the best price for them and create least leftovers, they are totally agree and support our methods.” said Ms. Duong.
A Jump ahead with the Leapfrog Project
Based on these sustainable dimensions and the first designs made with Hoang, I went to Duc Thanh company to help them using SOLIDWORKS Sustainability to assess the environmental impacts of their design choices.
For each product of the collection, we used SOLIDWORKS Sustainability to make environmental assessments. Here are the results we got:
Hexagon cutting board with groove: 62% CO2 reduction
Tangram cutting board with hole: 55% CO2 reduction
Rectangular tray with 20 holes and 2 handles: 65% CO2 reduction
Salad set: 61% CO2 reduction
Wine rack with 8 floors: 59% CO2 reduction
The entire collection has been shown at the Ambiente fair, in Germany last February, part of the sustainable design booth. The calculation made has been used to create marketing content and awareness for customers.
After this experience, Duc Thanh shared with us:
With sustainable design and practices, we can reduce the price and improve the quality of products. Our customers are very happy and satisfied with this practice, so it is the success that we have achieved and will maintain during our journey.
Finally, we also want to communicate our vision and mission to our customers gradually. It is not an easy road to go, but it is necessary if we want to protect the world for our children. Each product contains our will and trial in making a better world.
So making a better world could really start in your kitchen… tell us what you think? And stay tuned to the Leapfrog Project series