3. Product Level

On the product level you can allocate processes and materials to products, to determine the impact of a product up to the point where it leaves the production site.

For this, you will need the following data:

  • Production figures of products
  • Bills of materials for all your products
  • Process use per product throughout the site

On the following pages you can find information about the entering of products, production amounts and compositions; about the allocation of production processes to products; and about completing of your LCAs. 

3.1.1 Entering products

3.1.2. Entering products with Excel

3.2.1 Enter (yearly) production amounts

3.2.2. Enter (yearly) production amounts with Excel

3.3.1 Enter the composition of products

3.3.2 Enter the compositions of products with Excel

3.4.1 Allocate production processes to products

3.4.2. Allocate production processes to products with Excel 

3.5 Complete your LCAs

 

3.1.1 Entering products

Navigate to the products tab

In the picture below it is shown how you can navigate to the products tab. 

Adding products

You can create a product as follows (see picture below):

  • Enter the product name, for example: “Wheat beer 12 pack”;
  • Enter the English product name (optional);
  • Select a product type: Goods and services, energy, transport, or waste (recommended: Goods and services);
  • Define the product unit, for example: “1 twelve-pack” or “1 tonne”;
  • Enter the weight per product unit, for example: “7 kilograms” or “1 tonne”;
  • Click ‘Add product’.

The picture below shows the bottom section of the ‘Products’ tab, which appears once your products have been added. Under the advanced settings (see picture above) it is also possible to enter the volume of a product and a sales price. In case these product characteristics are entered into the application, they are displayed in the ‘Volume’ and ‘Sales price’ columns.

To edit a product, click on the icon.  To remove products from the products page, click on the  icon.

 

 

3.1.2. Entering products with Excel

On this page it is explained how you can enter products with Excel in your Ecochain company account. If you want to enter products manually, click here.

Navigate to the products tab

In the picture below it is shown how you can navigate to the products tab. 

Adding products

In order to add all your products using Excel, take the following steps:

  • Click ‘Export’;
  • The download starts, as indicated in the top-right of the screen;

  • Open the Excel-file on your personal computer;

  • Enter the product name(s);
  • Optional: enter the English product name, internal reference (code) or product number (columns B, C and D);

  • Enter the product type in column E. Use one of the following product types: “Goods and services”, “Energy”, “Transport” or “Waste” (recommended: Goods and services);
  • Define the product unit, for example: “1 twelve-pack” or “1 tonne”;
  • Enter the weight per product unit, for example: “7 kilograms” or “1 tonne”;

  • Enter the production amount per year per product;
  • Optional: enter the price (Euro) and the volume per product;

  • When finished, save the Excel-file on your personal computer;
  • Go to the ‘Products’ tab and click ‘Import’;
  • Click ‘Select an xls file’;
  • Select the saved file from your local computer;
  • Click ‘Preview Changes’;

  • Click ‘Save changes’.

The picture below shows the bottom section of the ‘Products’ tab, which appears once your products have been added. Under the advanced settings (see picture above) it is also possible to enter the volume of a product and a suggested price. In case these product characteristics are entered into the application, they are displayed in the ‘Volume’ and ‘Selected price’ columns.

To edit a product, click on the  icon.  To remove products from the products page, click on the  icon.

Excel errors

It is important to realise that the Import/Export function adheres to strict formatting, without which the Ecochain application cannot process the data correctly. The easiest way to ensure that this is the case is to base the imported data on an exported format.

The Excel-format should:

  • Adhere to the pre-configured format of Ecochain data at that specific stage of the process. This means that no changes can be made in either the number of columns or column titles
  • Not contain any formulas. If the cell value was determined by a formula, please ensure that it is pasted as a value if it is to be imported into Ecochain (use the ‘paste special’ option of Excel);
  • Not contain any values that derive from cells that are not within the boundaries of the table. The ‘Look Up’ or referral functions should not be used, as Ecochain will not be able to follow that reference.

 

 

3.2.1 Enter (yearly) production amounts

On this page it is explained how you can enter production amounts into your Ecochain company account manually. If you want to enter production amounts using Excel, click here. 

Navigate to the production tab

In the picture below it is shown how you can navigate to the production tab. 

Enter production amounts

Enter the production amounts for the products that have been defined in the entering products step.

 

 

3.3.1 Enter the composition of products

On this page it is explained how you can enter the composition of your products into your Ecochain company account (so link materials to products) manually. If you want to enter compositions of products using Excel, click here. 

Navigate to the Compositions tab

In the picture below it is shown how you can navigate to the compositions tab. 

Enter a product composition

To enter the composition of different products click the ‘Add materials’ button.

A new window will appear, showing all the materials that have been added in the purchasing tab. In case materials are missing, you can add new materials.

Create the product composition as follows:

  • Enter the amount of necessary materials per product, and adjust the unit if needed;
  • Check the final combined weight of the necessary materials;
  • Click ‘Save changes’.

The total weight of the necessary materials may differ from the weight per unit as entered in the products tab. This could be caused by the difference between gross and net weights. Imagine the following situation: during the production process of a wooden chair cutting losses will occur. To produce the homogenous wooden chair, which weighs 5 kilograms, the production company has to purchase 8 kilograms of wood (gross weight). This means that the weight of the composition is 8 kilograms but the final (net) weight, as entered in the products tab, is 5 kilograms.

 

3.3.2 Enter the compositions of products with Excel

On this page it is explained how you can enter the composition of your products with Excel into your Ecochain company account (so link materials to products). If you want to enter compositions of products manually, click here.

Navigate to the Compositions tab

In the picture below it is shown how you can navigate to the compositions tab. 

Entering a product composition

In order to enter the compositions of all your products through Excel, take the following steps:

  • Click ‘Export’;
  • The download starts, as indicated in the top-right of the screen;

  • Open the Excel-file on your personal computer;

  1. Enter the product name in column A. Whenever your product consists of multiple materials, repeat the product name in several rows (see below);
  2. Enter the materials per product. CAUTION: This material should have an identical name as added in the Purchasing step. Materials that are newly added in this import will be added to the purchasing tab; 

  • Enter the amount per material per product;
  • Enter the unit per material per product;

  • When finished, save the Excel-file on your personal computer;
  • Go to the ‘Compositions’ tab and click ‘Import’;
  • Click ‘Select an xls file’;
  • Select the saved file from your local computer;
  • Click ‘Preview Changes’;

  • Click on the ‘table’ to see the changes that have been made;
  • If correct, click ‘Save Changes’.

The picture below shows an example of the compositions tab after an import. In case all materials are green, the materials are linked to a reference activity from an actual supplier company or an LCA database such as Ecoinvent or the Nationale Milieu Database (NMD). Whenever this is not the case, like in the image below, this means that for these specific materials no reference is selected from a supplier or database (yet). In order to connect an environmental impact to the materials you can click on the material, after which you are directed to the Purchasing tab, where you can select a reference.

The total weight of the necessary materials may differ from the weight per unit. Imagine the following scenario: during the production process of a wooden chair, cutting losses will occur. To produce the homogenous wooden chair, which weighs 5 kilograms, the production company has to purchase 8 kilograms of wood. This means that the weight of the composition is 8 kilograms but the final weight, as entered in the ‘Products’ tab (see step 5) is 5 kilograms.

Excel errors

It is important to realise that the Import/Export function adheres to strict formatting, without which the Ecochain application cannot process the data correctly. The easiest way to ensure that this is the case is to base the imported data on an exported format.

The Excel-format should:

  • Adhere to the pre-configured format of Ecochain data at that specific stage of the process. This means that no changes can be made in either the number of columns or column titles
  • Not contain any formulas. If the cell value was determined by a formula, please ensure that it is pasted as a value if it is to be imported into Ecochain (use the ‘paste special’ option of Excel);
  • Not contain any values that derive from cells that are not within the boundaries of the table. The ‘Look Up’ or referral functions should not be used, as Ecochain will not be able to follow that reference.

 

3.4.2. Allocate production processes to products with Excel

 
 

On this page it is explained how you can allocate processes to products in your Ecochain company account. Use of Excel for the manual allocation is also explained.

Navigate to the Process x Product tab

In the picture below it is shown how you can navigate to the Process x Product tab. 

Link processes to products

During this step it is defined how much of each process is used in the production of each product. The picture below presents an example of such a distribution.

Under header ‘Distribution method’ it is possible to select how the distribution of process use to products should be implemented. Ecochain provides four different options:

  1. By production weight (i.e. (product weight * production amount)/total weight of all products);
  2. By production amount (i.e. product production amount / total production amount of all products);
  3. Custom (see explanation below);
  4. Manual.

The ‘by production weight’ option is recommended if your factory produces a variety of products that differ in weight, for example a factory producing wooden chairs and tables. The ‘by production amount’ option is recommended for factories that produce an output with the same weight per product, for example asphalt producers that sell ‘1 tonne of asphalt, which weighs 1 tonne’. The two other distribution methods are explained in more detail below. 

Custom allocation

The custom distribution option can be used when not all products make use of the same processes. Imagine the following situation: In a beer brewery malting is a step in the production process where germinated cereal grains (i.e. barley) have to be dried, to be used as an input for beers and stouts. The beer brewery does, however, also produce tequila-flavoured beers for which the malting process is not necessary. This means that the energy use of the malting process should only be allocated to the beers and stouts, and not to the tequila flavoured beers.

By simply using the ‘by production weight’ and ‘by production amount’ distribution methods, as outlined in the previous paragraph, the tequila flavoured beers would also make use of the malting process (and receive the environmental impact of the used energy). To avoid this, we can use the ‘Custom’ distribution option:

  • Adjust the distribution method to ‘Custom’;
  • Click on edit icon  of a specific process;
  • Select ‘Production amount’ and ‘Barley’;
  • Click ‘Save’.

When using this custom setting, Ecochain recognises that only products with Barley in the product composition make use of the malting process. The result of this custom setting is displayed in the picture below. Now products that contain tequila (i.e. no barley) make ‘0’ use of the malting process. The number indicated for the ‘Light Beer Keg’ is a multiplication of the selected distribution criteria, which in itself has no meaning but is used by the application to calculate the total distribution of the processes for this particular product.

Manual allocation

It may also be possible that the amount of products that make use of a specific process is known. In order to enter the process use of all your products through Excel, take the following steps:

  • Set the distribution method of all processes to ‘Manual’;
  • Click ‘Export’;
  • The download starts, as indicated in the top-right of the screen;

  • Open the Excel-file on your personal computer;

  • Enter the specific amount of products that make use of the individual processes;

  • When finished, save the Excel-file on your personal computer;
  • Go to the ‘Process x Product’ tab and click ‘Import’;
  • Click ‘Select an xls file’;
  • Select the saved file from your local computer;
  • Click ‘Preview Changes’.

  • Click on the ‘table’ to see the changes that have been made;
  • If correct, click ‘Save Changes’.

Excel errors

It is important to realise that the Import/Export function adheres to strict formatting, without which the Ecochain application cannot process the data correctly. The easiest way to ensure that this is the case is to base the imported data on an exported format.

The Excel-format should:

  • Adhere to the pre-configured format of Ecochain data at that specific stage of the process. This means that no changes can be made in either the number of columns or column titles
  • Not contain any formulas. If the cell value was determined by a formula, please ensure that it is pasted as a value if it is to be imported into Ecochain (use the ‘paste special’ option of Excel);
  • Not contain any values that derive from cells that are not within the boundaries of the table. The ‘Look Up’ or referral functions should not be used, as Ecochain will not be able to follow that reference.

 

3.5 Complete your LCAs

On this page you can find information on completing your LCAs and about checking your data for errors.

Recalculate button

To finalize your LCA, you can simply press the recalculate button. Ecochain will calculate the results for you. Afterwards, you should review your data for errors. 

Data Review

This step is necessary to review your data for errors. In order to do so, navigate to ‘Done’ tab (Product > 6. Done) (see below):

1.png

Scroll down until you see the table that displays all the materials. This table compares the minimum amount of a materials that are needed according to the bill of materials (times production amounts) with the actual amount that is used (as indicated in the purchasing tab). In case these values differ per material, the extent of the difference is shown under the ‘adjustment’ header. Whenever you want that the table only depicts adjustments that are bigger than, for example 5%, it is possible to adjust the value in the ‘show adjustments bigger than or equal to’ menu.

The LCAs that are created with Ecochain are based on the actual amounts used. If the ‘amount needed’ and ‘amount used’ significantly differ, it is necessary to adjust the ‘purchasing’ tab. To adjust your data, take the following steps:

  • Navigate to the purchasing tab (Company > 3. Purchasing);
  • Review the amounts you entered in the purchasing tab and correct for possible mistakes;

In case no mistakes were made in the purchasing tab, it is possible the compositions or production amounts have been entered incorrectly into the application. Before proceeding, please check whether the production amounts are entered correctly (Enter production amounts):

Or whether compositions are entered correctly (Enter compositions of products):

Recommended: Ecochain also provides the possibility to link the purchasing amounts to the entered amounts in the production and composition tabs. To calculate your LCAs based on the compositions and production amounts as entered in the application, take the following steps:

1) Navigate to the purchasing tab (Company > 3. Purchasing);
2) Click on the   icon (see below);

3) Now, the purchased materials and amount of materials in the compositions are the same;

When you are finished with the data check, navigate to the ‘Done’ tab (Product > 6. Done). In case you made any changes during the data review, check the adjustments in the table on the review page (see below).