Digital Transformation of Circular Economy for Industrial Sustainability (DiCES)

Key Info

Basic Information

01.06.2023 to 31.05.2026
Organizational Unit:
Chair of Production Engineering, Factory Planning, Chair of Metrology and Quality Management, Model-based Systems
Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK)

Research partner

    • FIR e. V. at RWTH Aachen University
    • Miele & Cie. KG
    • All-for-One Group SE
    • Forcam GmbH
    • IconPro GmbH
    • Klima.Metrix GmbH




Niklas Schäfer



+49 1514 3180 679



Today, industrial value creation is linear; it largely ends with the consumer. Economic growth with a simultaneous reduction in resource requirements is therefore not achievable. The circular economy, i.e. the deceleration, reduction and closure of energy and material cycles, can resolve this contradiction. Existing circular strategies, also known as ReX strategies, are primarily used as singular strategies in this regard. However, focusing on a ReX strategy, such as re-pair, means that the full ecological and economic potentials of the circular economy are not exploited. Exploiting these potentials requires the design of value-added systems that enable the parallel integration of multiple circular strategies. Challenging issues include the lack of appropriate multi-criteria decision support to determine the ecologically and economically optimal ReX strategy, the lack of interconnectedness of product life cycles and associated IT systems, and the limitations imposed by linear, non-scalable production systems.

To resolve these limitations of conventional approaches, the goal of this research project is to develop a data-based integrated value creation system of the multidimensional circular economy.

The following specific sub-goals are being pursued in the DiCES project:

Multidimensional Circular Economy: A parallel implementation of several circular economy strategies (re-manufacturing, re-furbish, re-use and re-pair) for a product (e.g. washing machine), where based on the characteristics of the product and the value chain system the ecological and economical optimal circular economy strategy is selected.

Data-based integrated value creation system: Integration of the elements of the multidimensional circular economy through data-based networking of production and lifecycle-encompassing IT systems to create sustainable added value for customers. The pilot implementation of this novel value creation system is taking place at Miele's Gütersloh site and is the enabler of Miele's new business model "theUpgreat". It already makes it possible to lease household appliances that are to be reconditioned and remarketed by Miele after a defined period of use. The scalability of this model requires the implementation of the novel value creation system presented, based on the use of digital and networked technologies. The central element here is a data-based decision model that realizes the selection of the ecologically and economically optimal ReX strategy through a multi-criteria evaluation. By means of predictive forecasting of ReX efforts (ReX prediction) by an AI model based on a Digital Product Twin, predictive planning of the optimal ReX strategy is enabled. The implementation of multicircular order processing is made possible by a transformation and networking of previously non-circular IT systems of the development, production and utilization cycle. The scalable hybrid production system enables simultaneous disassembly, product preparation and assembly at the same station and flexible production. With the consideration of ecological and production factors in a digital sustainable product configuration, a more sustainable value creation is enabled. The value creation system is complemented by a service sustainability business model that focuses on incentivizing sustainable action by means of targeted services. The implementations at Miele and as a tangible demonstration in the demonstration factory in Aachen (DFA) serve as successful practices for the development of an industrial scaling of the circular economy and as a starting point for the transformation from linear to circular value creation. These implementations enable the derivation of an operationally validated guideline for the design of the circular economy-oriented value creation system.