Achieving Decarbonization: How ProGlove Reduces Its Carbon Footprint With Arena + Yook

Full transcript below:

Heatherly Bucher

Hello, and welcome to our event today. We are excited to have with us our customer ProGlove, and our partner Yook, to talk about a growing hot topic for many of Arena’s customers, product carbon footprint analysis and the regulatory requirements driving this topic.

Our format today is an informal panel discussion where we will learn more about product carbon footprints from an expert in this field, our partner, Yook. And then hear how ProGlove has taken steps to gain visibility into their product carbon footprints with product lifecycle analysis.

As a reminder for those joining us live for this event, you can ask your questions at any time by typing them into the platform. After our panel discussion, we’ll have time to answer questions. If you are watching our event as a recording, you’ll see more resources at the end of this event along with ways that you can contact us for more information.

Before we dive into our discussion, I’d like our panelists to introduce themselves, share a bit about yourself and your company. Varena, if you can start us off, then we’ll move to Kate, and I’ll go last.

Varena Junge

Sure. Thanks, Heatherly. My name is Varena, I’m Co- Founder of Yook. I’m also an environmental scientist and I’ve spent most of my career at the intersection of innovation products and sustainability.
So, creating Yook and the vision that we have with it is to empower manufacturers to effortlessly track and reduce their product carbon footprint just came naturally from that understanding that we need a different way to enable this for organizations and to really leverage data to drive decarbonization.

So what we do with Yook is that we have created a software. Next slide. So what we do with Yook is that our software is based on life cycle assessments, which we will talk about later a little bit, I understand, which allows companies to really easily, and with unlimited scalability, assess the product carbon footprint. Not just of a single product, but of all of the products, whether it’s thousands or up to millions, and understand the carbon hotspots, leverage those insights to drive decarbonization and obviously also to make sure that they comply with the regulatory standards that are out there.

Heatherly Bucher

Thank you, Varena. That was a fabulous introduction. And then Kate, tell us a bit about yourself and ProGlove.

Kate Kröger

Sure, yeah. So, I’m Kate. I am a product manager at ProGlove with a background in mechanical engineering. And if you could just jump to the next slide, I’ll give you an intro to the company.

So the initial idea of ProGlove came about 10 years ago when our founder was walking around a BMW site and saw workers trying to balance barcode scanners and boxes and struggling to move things. So he thought, “How can we make a more ergonomic, better product?” And came up with the idea of ProGlove.

Since then, the company has now grown to 350 employees with four offices and over 2,000 customers across 50 countries. The core of the design is still done in Germany and most of our manufacturing still occurs in Europe. On to next.

So as I said earlier, the initial idea of the product came from ergonomics and also we wanted to look at how can we improve the process and efficiency. So always thinking about how can we make things better for the worker. Since then, we’ve grown to a larger portfolio of different scanners, different consumables, chargers, software, all trying to help the worker and the warehouse industry.

Heatherly Bucher

That’s wonderful. Thanks, Kate.

And I’m Heatherly Bucher. I lead alliances and partnerships at Arena. Arena is a PTC business. My background is, I’ve actually been in the PLM QMS QMS industry first as a customer early in my career, and then I’ve been at several PLM companies over the years in a variety of roles.

But I’ve been with Arena for over 10 years. And we are focused on bringing dispersed teams and supply teams together. Arena was the first SaaS cloud-native solution and we’ve grown into a market leader now with 1,400+ companies worldwide, including EU companies like ProGlove, but many companies around the world with dispersed operations. They may sit as OEMs, some of them are also design houses. They work with suppliers around the world. In fact, all of the leading EMSs in the world have access to a variety of Arena assistance through our customers, and we are focused basically on unified solution for product and quality management.

And so if you’re an Arena customer today listening to us, all about us. If you are looking at Arena, then you can contact us for more information.

Let’s move into this panel discussion. Varena, you are the expert, for sure. Can you start us off by explaining why product carbon footprint analysis has become an important topic across many industries today?

Varena Junge

I mean, the obvious answer is it’s a known fact that we need to decarbonize basically everything. So that includes products, products we design, products we produce, products we use, and this triples down to then, more specifically, two main drivers I would say to stakeholders that have realized that they need to act on this.

And the first one is, obviously, the increasing and fastly changing and adapting regulatory requirements. So just to name a few, we have in the U.S. the California Climate Disclosure Laws. The Europe is really strong, the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. The Green Claims Directive, sustainable products directive that is soon to be coming up. In French, we have the environmental law and then in some industries we have EPDs that are already considered state-of-the-art and a must-have.

So that’s one part.The other part is what we see with our customers and in the market in general is that there’s this growing pressure in the B2B environment, but also in the B2C environment, from strategic clients and customers to simply provide transparency on the product current footprint. Because it highlights accountability, but it also allows within supply chains to leverage this information and move it upwards. So, those are for me, the two core drivers.

What I find really interesting and exciting as well, and there are supporting studies that highlight this, is more and more companies understand today and start to leverage the competitive advantage that comes from realizing, being in the known and making the products future-proof.

Heatherly Bucher

No, this is very interesting too. Like you said, the increasing requirements that are kind of adding up across the globe and then this competitive drive as well. It is a new area for many product companies and Arena has customers in the green tech space in Europe and around the world. We have a commitment ourselves to assisting our customers in their sustainability efforts.

And we are interested in the data and processes they entrust in Arena and how does that help in these sustainability efforts. And this is what led us to the partnership with Yook that we’re very excited about. We feel like we’re learning alongside our customers. And this competitive advantage aspect you mentioned is very interesting because so many of our customers are first movers or early-to-market or trying to gain control of their space.

And I think what we’re learning along with our customers is, how do they do this? How do companies begin to measure their product carbon footprint?

Varena Junge

Yeah, I mean that’s a hard question, right? And I’m sorry that I will become a bit science nerdy here just to give you the basics.

Heatherly Bucher

That’s okay.

Varena Junge

So, bear with me, I try to keep it to the minimum, and the keywords maybe that are just helpful to understand what we’re talking about. So the scientific methodology behind all of this is called life cycle assessment, often referenced to as LCA, which basically looks at a product’s life cycle stages from the very first step of raw material extraction, then all the different processing steps, manufacturing, transport within and between those steps, and then obviously the packaging. And then it ends either at what’s called the gate, which is basically your warehouse gate, or it further includes use and end of life and then it’s called cradle to grave. So, until you really dispose of the product. Most regulation currently focuses on cradle to gate. And so do we though we do have full circularity assessment on our roadmap, and especially if you design products, you can also influence not just the production phase but also the use and end of life partially, especially the use, obviously.

And so what happened, for most of the people, LCA is such a black box. It seems something magic is happening within there. The short story is that there are lots of activities that are happening that I just mentioned across those stages and each activity is mapped against the so-called emission factor. And this emission factor tells you how much carbon, for example, gets emitted when you source a specific metal sheet or how much carbon is emitted by using a kilowatt-hour in production in a specific facility or country.

So basically, what you do is you have this digital twin of a product ideally, that is looking at all the carbon emitted and all the different steps. And with complex supply chains, this can become quite complex and you can already imagine no company out there, it has 100% transparency on this.

And that’s most of the time, the starting point for companies as well to say, “We can’t do this, we don’t have that sort of transparency and we won’t within the next years.” And our supply chains are shifting and so forth. You don’t need that. So LCA is like, all the scientists in the world know that you cannot do. Ideally you would love to have that, but you never do.

So, you always work with closing those data gaps by using assumptions and proxies and that’s basically the art in itself. And that’s driven by regulation on what kind of art and proxies you’re allowed to use. And you can do this either manually. I’ve been doing this actually as a consultant over 10 years ago. And then you have super complex Excel spreadsheets and sometimes those consultants spend years trying to figure out all the data collected manually across an organization, or you leverage the power of software for it.

And I think that’s a bit what we’re going to talk about today.

Heatherly Bucher

Yeah, no, the amount of spreadsheets, I’m sure, involved in the past before a platform like Yook is overwhelming and always is out of date, right? I mean, the minute you finish them, they’re out of date, which is the nature of static spreadsheets, as handy as they seem to be as a starting place.

And LCA is definitely an acronym I feel like we should add to our vocabulary. So Kate, can you share how ProGlove became interested in this topic of product carbon footprint analysis?

Kate Kröger

Sure. So as Varena said, we are also very aware of the Corporate Sustainability Report Directive. So we saw that we had a big black box in order to be able to report what we’re doing here.
So we really wanted to start looking into this. Furthermore, we just got a new investor of Nordic Capital who had these requirements that say, “We want you to be reducing your emissions. We want to see all this data.” And I mean, we just kind of loved to go, “Where do we start on this? We should be looking at this, but we need to start working on it.” So we started thinking, looking into it, looking at competitors, and noticing none of our competitors are sharing this data yet. So we also have that opportunity to get ahead and be the first in our area to share that data because we can win customers doing that.

Another big issue we have is some of our products are consumables. And that is a thing where people are seeing, “Okay, we have to keep bidding this product. How is this impacting… What do we do with this? Is it bad for the environment?” And we started wondering, “Do we have to redesign all our products so we can’t do this,” but there’s a lot of aspects that go into this. We started really wanting to know what impact are our products having on the environment.

It’s a really big topic, and I mean, as I mentioned earlier, we’re still quite a young company. We had lots of big internal drivers which we’re interested, we care about the environment as a company.
We’re young, we see how it’s going to impact our future and future generations. So, we just had a lot of motivation to really look into this topic. So we just thought, “Let’s put together a team and start looking at this,” with the mission of we want to understand our carbon footprint so that we know how we can reduce it going forward.

Heatherly Bucher

That’s great. So like Varena said, really ProGlove had the regulatory driver, right? You had a new investor who was focused on sustainability, you had the competitive driver, you wanted to be the first in your market to do this, to lead. And then you had internal interests in putting together a team, a task force to push towards sustainability.

Does that sum up? You had multiple drivers pushing you forward in this area?

Kate Kröger

Yeah, exactly.

Heatherly Bucher

Yeah. That’s great. So, you’ve been an Arena customer I think for several years now, correct?

Kate Kröger


Heatherly Bucher

And in this process, many of the parameters used environmental impact that Varena’s talked about. They’re defined during product development, right? The materials you’re going to use in your product, the manufacturing capabilities or processes, what supplier parts you’re going to source.

So when you added Yook to your environment, can you share a little bit about what changes you found you might need to make in Arena or the data you manage in Arena to help Yook work better in these lifecycle assessments?

Kate Kröger

Sure. So yeah, as you said, when we first started speaking to you and they were asking for all this data, Arena was the first thing that popped to our mind. As you say, it’s the central storage for all of this, so we have to go there and get the data from there.

Where we began to find that we were missing some data was scrap. We don’t store scrap material on Arena, and particularly when we work in textiles as we do in our consumables, there’s a lot of scrap. Also, manufacturing processes is not stored in there. So trying to pull in this data is something that we’ve been working with Arena.

So we have that. So as we go and develop future products, that data is already in there. As soon as we have a new supplier, we can add their data straight into Arena: where they are, their mode of transport we use to get their products to our manufacturing sites. So it’s quick, it’s easy to pull that data out as we go into analysis. Furthermore, as we try and develop a new product, we can look at different suppliers we have for different materials.

And hopefully, and what we’re working on, is we can then take the data that Yook give us and pull that back into Arena so that we can see the carbon footprint of these different components, particularly common components we have across portfolio. And we can say, “Hey, let’s use this rather than that because it’s got a better carbon footprint.” So it’s really crucial for pulling the two together is Arena. It’s really interesting and good.

Heatherly Bucher

No, it’s exciting. I love the expansion of what additional data could you put in Arena that’s valuable to provide to the Yook platform to get this incremental improvements in your life cycle assessment.
And then going back, I love your comment about bringing information from Yook back into decisions you make in product design.

I’ve been around this industry, I’ve been supporting discrete product manufacturers now for 25 years. And what I have found in every team I’ve worked with is it’s about getting all the information to the team that we can to make the right decisions or the best decisions.

I don’t want to say the right decisions, the best decisions every time a decision’s made; from NPD forward. So every time a component engineer or a systems engineer or a supply chain manager is making a decision, do they have as much of the information we can provide so that they make the best decision?And part of the best decision now is about product carbon footprint as well.

So this is very exciting. Personally, I love it. I am hoping that more of our customers will jump on this and learn from what you’ve done. So talking about LCA, now that we know this acronym, Varena, which results can people expect from an LCA system like Yook?

Varena Junge

Before I jump on that question, just let me add to what you previously mentioned because I find this so relevant as well to see the potential that you have if you…

Previously a lot of LCA solutions have been focused on building that additional data lack basically. And you have, then, two data silos. You have all this effort to maintain information in different places and thus I think using Arena as really your source of truth for product information, you have it there in your PLM and then, adapt the PLM. And if you have a flexible PLM, this allows you to ensure that additional information that you might not need from an engineering perspective but might need from a product carbon assessment perspective, you also add in there.

Most of the time we realize that this is information that also is used by supply chain managers or procurement then, as well. So you can really leverage that and ensure that you don’t get to this point where information is just scattered around and you have…

I mean, that’s the starting point that we always encounter, but moving towards this more holistic approach just leverages so much potentia to really use the information quickly where it matters. And you don’t have to… If engineers have to start switching programs all the time and collect information to make the decisions, it’s just slowing down their workflow massively. So I think that’s a massive opportunity there to just make sure it’s available for them. Where they need it and also in a way that they understand it, right? Because I think that’s a tricky part as well.

And maybe that’s a good way to get started on what are the results that you can expect from a system like Yook. You get the results, which is so-called product carbon footprint of the total product and the functional unit that you’ve been looking at. But you also as we don’t want to be that black box just like, “Oh, here we go, this is your final report…” You understand each individual driver, each individual component, each individual material, and the related impact on the overall carbon footprint.

And next to that we also have embedded a so-called accuracy score, which helps you understand how good is the quality of this specific data point and how good is the quality of my overall results, because I do have to use assumptions somewhere. I do not have maybe up-to-date emission factors for all of my materials. So that needs to be something we start communicating around as well.

And no company is there, as we mentioned before, that we have a 100% perfect picture of our product and supply chain. But it’s about getting there and our software guides you towards which data is relevant to collect in the next steps as well. So, you don’t just start data collection and have this massive project where you try to gather everything and then a whole team is blocked for months, right?
o, it’s rather like really “Okay, if you get these data points, you can improve your accuracy by 5%.” This is way more relevant than something that is a lower digit number. And then you really can also start looking into, as Kate just mentioned, comparing components, but you can also compare process steps, processing measures and understand which hotspots may I be able to address.

And that’s the next part. You can use this to look at the single product, but you can also look at the product group to identify decarbonization potentials on a product group or category level. And obviously also on your full portfolio and drive simulations to understand what kind of actions would have what kind of impact. So you really get data insights and say, “Okay, we simulate a few ideas that we have floating around based on the hotspots and based on the reality that we know on what we could be doing maybe or maybe also just thinking way ahead, what maybe we cannot do today but might be able to realize in the future.” And then by understanding what would be the true impact in terms of carbon saved, it helps me to prioritize these activities and understand where to put my energy on.

Maybe just if I may add, what’s so interesting is that you can use all these different users are using the information, right? So you have the product engineers, the product designers, the product managers.
But then you also have the supply chain managers and procurement department because they play an important role as well in then driving and enabling decarbonization by looking at alternative suppliers, alternative components. And you have the sustainability and sales and marketing department, which is using the results to actually push it out there and use it for positioning of the brand and of the products.

Heatherly Bucher

Right? To tell the story. I am struck by several things you said, which is… and I think you’ve said this several times, which is 100% accuracy is probably something not achievable, but it’s this highly iterative approach, this continual improvements approach to lifecycle assessment and understanding what your product carbon footprint is, or PCF.

So Kate, I’d love to hear from you, what did this process look like for ProGlove as far as the iterative approach and the continuous improvements? What was your first focus and what did you find and then how did you progress from there?

Kate Kröger

Sure. So initially we thought, “Okay, we need to start on one product. We need to work out how this process works. We’ve never worked with Yook before. Let’s pick a product to work on.” And we thought our consumables are probably the best for this, one of our gloves, because there’s a lot of fabric. Also, we manufacture it in-house, so we have a lot of data there. So we thought that’s a really good one we can start with and this was before we’d started working closely with Arena.

So what we did is we just exported all the data out of Arena because it was there. it we export it and then we sent it to Yook. And very quickly, and it was very quickly, Yook managed to highlight where we had low accuracy, whether it was in transport, whether it was in materials. And it was kind of more of a back and forward initially as we got to know each other on this product. And so we didn’t go a super deep dive into every single component. We started looking at where do we not have great accuracy. And then we could reach out, we could reach out to suppliers, we could do investigations on material properties, all this type of thing.

And then slowly we built up that data set and since then we’ve taken that data and put it back into Arena. This has been a really good learning to understand what is this critical data for us, which was weight, which was scrap, which was transport, all this type of thing to understand and really pull down this accuracy score. We managed to pull it down from the initial input, down. We managed to increase the accuracy score by 11%, which is actually a lot to say there’s so many unknowns out there.

So that was really cool. I mean, this happened within the process of I think about a month. So it was actually very quick. And then once we’d done this, A, it gave us insights onto how we go forward because we were looking at this with, “How do we improve this product?” But also, it made us think, “How do we analyze the next range of products we want to bring into the rest of the portfolio?” So we then knew what data we needed, we could very, very quickly pull that data through.

There was less back and forward because we’d already worked together and built up this relationship and we could basically send all the data needed and it was really quick and it was great. We suddenly had a good overview of all our components and all our portfolio in their system, and it is the interface that Yook have, have a really clear overview of what the hotspots are, where you’re getting the biggest carbon footprint emissions coming in, all that type of thing.

So yeah, we really could then quickly get the rest of the portfolio done once we’d done a deep dive into one.

Heatherly Bucher

No, that’s fabulous. And so once you did this initial deep dive into, one, your consumables and you’ve been building it out, what’s been the value of these product carbon footprint and data insights to ProGlove? Like what teams have visibility? What do you do with it? What value as a whole is, I think, assessed to these PCFs that are coming out of Yook?

Kate Kröger

So for example, the first product, the reason we also picked that was because we were thinking, “How do we develop this product?” And it made us realize we really need to redevelop by changing textiles because textiles are huge impacts and also our manufacturing process.

So instead of the product development track we were going down, we’ve shifted the product development so that we really are making the impact we were hoping to get. So having this insight really drove us in the right decision going forward, which was really cool. It also allowed us to know as we develop future products as well, we have a baseline of what our previous generation were at, carbon footprint-wise. So we can say, “Hey, we want to do better on the next generation. We want to improve.” So we are going in the right direction throughout generations of products. So it’s now becoming a core metric when we do requirement catalogs as well, which is really exciting because it means everyone’s getting involved.

Supply chain, as you say, are involved; engineering are involved. And it’s really a big talking point now in projects. On top of this, we’re now taking the data and we’re working very closely and we want to make sure we’re doing this right. But putting together the marketing material and training our sales on how they can share this data with customers, we need to be very clear that they’re trained on it. Because it can easily come across as greenwashing and we want to make sure that they know this is where we’re at and we’re always looking at improving.

And this is the very key metric. So that is something we’re really working on right now is how to get that data out right. And it’s also something that Yook’s been really great at, supporting with the marketing material. They’ve been checking the documentation, supplying API so we can build it into our website, this type of thing. So it is becoming a really good relationship for all aspects of PCF and LCA work.

Heatherly Bucher

No, it’s super exciting. Prior to us sitting down and talking, I didn’t know about the changes that you’ve been able to make in your textile manufacturing as a result of what you found in the PCF analysis.
And I can’t think of a better takeaway or value of this information, this closed-loop process of being able to make a better decision in your textile manufacturing to improve your carbon footprint.

And I think it’s super exciting that you’re going to make these results transparent, but in a way that builds trust and accountability as well. I think it speaks to, of course, the quality and the foundation of ProGlove and your approach to the market. And of course, we love you. You’re an Arena a customer. We love our customers who approach things in this way, focus on sustainability as well as accountability and transparency.

So we have time for one more question and I’d like to give you each a chance to respond.

As we’ve talked about, the Arena-Yook partnership is a fairly new partnership. ProGlove is a leading-edge early adopter of using the two platforms together for product carbon footprint analysis. And so, love to give you both an opportunity to talk about lessons learned and tips you’d share with others, like Kate in your case from ProGlove, tips you would share with other Arena customers who need to track product carbon footprint. And then Varena, in general and having now worked with some Arena customers, tips that you’d like to share.

So Kate, you first.

Kate Kröger

First, sure. I think a big learning was, it’s a big task that you could never start too early. There was so much data to get and I mean we’ve mainly spoken about cradle to gate, so just the stuff that is in the immediate control of the manufacturer.

There’s still so much more we can do on circularity, looking at returning, how the customer’s using this. So take it step by step, start cradle to gate, do this because this is where you have the most data to start with, but don’t stop there and you can keep working and you can keep learning and adapting your products as you go forward.

But to do this, you need a team. This isn’t just a one-person task. This is going to be cross-company. You’re going to need supply chain, you’re going to need engineering, you’re going to need sales to discuss to customers, find out how are they’re using the products and stuff like that later on. So it’s a whole team that needs to be doing this cross-company and that’s really fun. Not many projects or processes which get to do this across the whole company.

So that was a really big learning for us. I think another one is it doesn’t have to be so manual when you start doing the sharing and start getting this, if you do it as you go. So even now if you think maybe in two years we’re going to start analyzing our products, already now, start putting that data in Arena. Start saying, “Where are my suppliers?” What processes are we using? What are the weight of these components?” Because then, when it comes to you actually doing the LCA, you have that data already and you can just outsource it straight away. It’s there. So I really would say you can never start too early and that is a big learning, I think.

Heatherly Bucher

So Varena, what would be your tips to the Arena customer base?

Varena Junge

I think Kate already did a perfect summary there. So maybe just a few things that I would highlight on top of that is really I want to take away this fear of getting started. Because with whatever data you have, getting started today will bring you in this process of understanding what can be the next steps. And then it’s up to you to decide how fast we want to run down this road. But what we see is, because you get in all these different teams and all these different users that can leverage the data, and it’s such a fast process that is not slowing everyone down, but instead suddenly creating insights.

It creates excitement. It was beautifully described by Kate before, that really they’re getting excited about suddenly being able to not just poking in the dark anymore and relying on gut feeling about, “I think this is probably not great for the environment, maybe we should work on that.” But you suddenly have this data which gives you clarity and then you can focus on specific aspects and do data collection on specific aspects where it’s needed for your use cases, for your requirements within the company. And something that I loved and also love working with ProGlove is that they take this very holistic perspective on it.

So it’s not something that is a like lighthouse project run by the sustainability department and not linked at all to actually operational decision-making. Instead, it’s the other way around. It’s driven by operational decision-making and their understanding that they really embed this across the organization. And then the results can be used, yay, by sustainability and marketing and sales.

But it’s really that way, ensuring that this is not a greenwashing initiative. It’s really helping to be at the core and then you have to match it against reality. So obviously, often the cases that we do, have a lot of decarbonization potential that we can display in theory. And then the hard job that still exists, and that you’d still need the product teams for, is to then see how can we make this a reality because we might not yet have the alternative materials with the quality that we need or the design and so forth.

But it triggers all these discussions, and it really helps you to have your products’ future-proof. So yeah, really, get started. Don’t be afraid to get started and don’t be afraid that you don’t have enough data or that this will push, just wear everyone down because it’s a slow process as you can be so iteratively. And if you have Arena as a PLM, it’s so easy to get started with whatever data you have in there.

Heatherly Bucher

I couldn’t really say it better. I think don’t be afraid to get started and if you have Arena, like you said, you have actually foundational data and you can kinda jump right in where you are.

So a big thank you, first of all to Kate and ProGlove being an early adopter in this leading-edge area of PCF analysis with us and our new partner, Yook. And thank you also, Varena, for sharing your expertise with us as we explore how the two platforms can help our customers progress towards their sustainability goals.

For everyone joining us today, we have some resources for you to learn more about Arena, and Yook and ProGlove, our customer. There’s an Arena Marketplace listing if you go to the website. Under SOLUTIONS, we have our catalog marketplace of the different connections or integrations we have to other platforms. And we have an entry there for Yook. It includes a short video overview, some details of using the two platforms together, where we are today, and where we’re going in the future.

You can also go visit Yook’s website. Also check out ProGlove’s website, our wonderful customer ProGlove, and learn more about what they’re doing. And many more of our customers are product manufacturers. So who knows, they may need you, Kate, in their own manufacturing spaces. And we also, in addition to this event, we have a CleanTeach Talk podcast featuring ProGlove that will be available also on the CleanTech Talk website, so you can go there.

If you are joining live we are going to take a look at your questions now and answer some of those as we can, live, and then follow up with the rest after this event.

So, thank you for joining.