Ebook: PLATE: Product Lifetimes And The Environment
Product lifetimes are critical for the circular economy, resource efficiency, waste reduction and low carbon strategies for sustainability, and are therefore of interest to academics from many different disciplines as well as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and other stakeholders. The challenges related to product lifetimes must be tackled from multiple perspectives, making the sharing of knowledge and expertise from different disciplines particularly important.
This book presents papers from the second Product Lifetime and the Environment (PLATE) conference, held in Delft, the Netherlands, in November 2017. The conference originated from the desire to bring together academic researchers working in the field of sustainability to benefit from each other’s knowledge and further advance the field. The book includes the 88 full papers delivered at the conference, grouped according to the following 7 conference themes: design for product longevity; product lifetime optimization; cultural perspectives on the throwaway society; circular economy and product lifetimes; business opportunities, economic implications and marketing strategies; consumer influences on product lifetimes; and policy, regulation and legislation.
The book will be of interest to all those concerned with sustainable consumption, circular economy and resource efficiency.
Product lifetimes are of critical importance in the debate on circular economy, resource efficiency, waste reduction, and low carbon strategies for sustainability. Consequently, the environmental, economic, and social challenges related to product lifetimes are gaining interest among academics of different disciplines, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and other companies, government bodies, and policy stakeholders. To successfully tackle the challenges related to product lifetimes, it is important to tackle the topic from multiple perspectives and thus to share knowledge and expertise of different disciplines, such as design, business management, economics, marketing, consumer behaviour, sociology, anthropology, and politics.
The Product Lifetime and the Environment (PLATE) conference originated from the desire to bring together academic researchers, industry, and policy stakeholders working in the field of sustainability in order to benefit from each other's knowledge and further advance the field. In November 2017, the 2nd PLATE conference was held at the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. We are delighted to hereby present the conference proceedings of this exceptional three-days event. The 2nd PLATE conference included 88 conference papers, 4 key note presentations, 10 workshops, and a PhD-only session.
Specifically, the papers correspond to the following seven conference themes:
1. Design for product longevity
2. The role of product lifetimes in resource efficiency
3. Product lifetimes optimization
4. Cultural perspectives on the throwaway society
5. Business opportunities, economic implications and marketing strategies
6. Consumer influences on product lifetimes, including repair and reuse
7. Policy, regulation and legislation.
One hundred and forty-five proposals for papers were submitted to the organisers in the form of abstracts. Following a peer review process, 88 papers were finally accepted for publication in the proceedings. We were impressed by the quality of the papers and are grateful to include contributions from researchers from many disciplines and 24 countries across five continents.
As editors of these proceedings, we are pleased to put together this collection of interesting papers on the topic of product lifetimes in the context of sustainability. We are confident that the proceedings will contribute to the academic knowledge in this field as well as advance the debate on this important topic.
Conny Bakker and Ruth Mugge (Editors)
To contribute to a more sustainable way of consumption, products should stay usable as long as possible. Therefore, it is necessary to take care of products. Product care should be understood as any action that helps prolonging the lifetime of a product, such as maintenance, repair etc. These product care activities can be conducted by the consumer or by a service. Our interview study helps to understand consumers' current product care behaviour towards products of different categories. Our study is based on Fogg's behaviour model, which states that motivation, ability and triggers have to be present at the same time to lead to certain behaviour. We were able to identify different motivators (e.g. pleasure, price, functionality), ability factors (e.g. tools, time and effort) and triggers (e.g. appearance triggers, social triggers) for product care. Based upon the findings of this study, strategies that enhance product care are suggested and relevant aspects for future research are proposed.
Planned obsolescence, a developed theory to maintain the continuity of production by consuming, manifests itself in a large number of products since its first emergence. Through the use of substandard materials, the short-lived products ensure rapidity and continuity in consumption. Additionally, the newer and different options awaken desire of consumers to change their ‘obsolete’ products. Thus, planned obsolescence becomes both a trigger and a consequence of the consumer society. In contrast to broad discussions on the scheduled lifespan of the products in economics and industrial design, a very small number of studies focus on the building lifetimes. Indeed, planned obsolescence is also a problem of architecture but surely has been carried within a different process and approach than with industrial products. The initial aim of this study is to point out the existence of planned obsolescence in architecture by exposing the ambiguity behind the determination of building demolitions (in other words consciously defined ‘expiration dates’). In the framework of the paper, an ongoing urban transformation project in İstanbul: Tarlabaşı Renewal project is examined as a case study. By doing so, the crucial variables that have effects on economic existences of the buildings are underlined in the specific case. Due to the constitution of a basic equation, this study tries to demonstrate the possibility of a developing quantitative research method on building lifetimes in replace of stereotypical assumptions. Consequently, it is envisioned that the subjectivity concerning the demolitions of buildings shall be controlled with the determination of prominent factors and their ratios in overall.
The Internet of Things and the amplified capabilities of smart products can be increasingly utilised for the development of feedback-rich systems and loops throughout the entire product life cycle. By adopting the IoT and collecting data during product utilisation, companies can replace the end-of-life concept with product life extension and circular loops. In this sense, service business models hold the greatest potential to optimise the utilisation of goods over time. These models allow a reduction of the overall life cycle costs and contribute to resource-efficiency and the transition towards a circular economy. This paper introduces the concept of smart-circular systems that reflects the interplay between the Internet of Things, the circular economy and service business models and presents a conceptual framework for further empirical analysis of this phenomenon. The framework focuses on product-service systems and more broadly on services business models that optimise the utilisation of goods over time through the amplification of circular activities by the introduction of smart enablers. It also considers three main business models types and tactics for successful implementation of service business models.
Sharing can be a way to confront ecological and social challenges. Libraries of Things offer the process of sharing in a convenient way that fits into the users' everyday life. These Libraries offer access to a broad range of items to everyone at a low price. The items offered should be of high quality to minimize risks, to enhance the flow of the sharing process and to create as little maintenance effort and cost as possible for the library. The contradiction of offering high quality products for a relatively low price could be solved by a cooperation between manufacturers using Libraries of Things as a distribution platform. The Libraries could thus help the manufacturers to adapt their business to the circular economy. This paper does not present a ready-made solution yet, but rather reflects upon the role of design within this area of product-service system and defines further fields of research since Lending Libraries have not yet been reflected upon from a design-angle.
Object customisation has historically been a regular practice as a form of self, or group-identification. A product we can identify ourselves with, is one that we keep for longer, tend to repair when it breaks and dispose of later as a result of an emotional bond with it. Such bond is strengthened when we invest time and effort customising. Consumer involvement when customising is facilitated by new technologies in design and manufacturing. For example, computer algorithms can automate customisation, meaning products are customised for consumers rather than by consumers, (namely individualisation). However, the adequate ‘amount’ of consumer interaction is still debated amongst researchers. This paper questions the consumer benefit and extent of an emotional bond with individualised products. Using a mixed-method approach, 63 participants responded to in-depth interviews while engaging with individualisation exercises. Respondents were profiled as either of two types of consumers depending on their interest in art, design and critical engagement with what they consume, namely Active Consumers (AC) and Passive Consumers (PC). Results suggest individualisation attracts PCs, showing signs of greater engagement in the process and attachment to the product than ACs. PCs welcomed the automated decisions taken by an individualisation toolkit, whilst ACs found it detrimental to the experience. It is claimed that individualisation can strengthen emotional bonds between PCs and the resulting products. The paper concludes that individualisation could offer PCs new experiences, enriching their lives, generating an emotional attachment leading to longer product lifetimes, and potentially changing consuming behaviours otherwise unlikely to be nurtured.
Craft, playing a significant role in the story of sustainable fashion design, is a deep-rooted tradition in Turkish society. Besides the symbolic meaning of the hand-made, by generating emotional bounds it hinders consumers from throwing their products away (Clark, 2008). Therefore it is used as a design strategy to eliminate waste. Moreover, many of the Turkish craft techniques are based primarily on the reuse of the old and wasted materials. Over the last few years, many women-centred initiatives and cooperatives started to value craft and labour-intensive production outside of a home. However, many traditional craft techniques are on the verge of extinction since the Turkish youth is not willing to learn them. It is an uneasy fact that in design education, craft-based practices, and collaborative work are generally ostracized. However, craft based practices promise to be valuable methods for the development of sustainable design in developing countries. Regarding the current situation of craft and design education, the aim of this research is to explore how design education can be re-contextualized in order to generate social change, stimulate collective production and question the hierarchies in the existing system. The main objective of the study is to generate alternative ways of learning and designing through craft and upcycling. Therefore; in addition to the literature review, a case study has been conducted. As part of the case study, a small group of volunteer Textile and Fashion Design students were asked to collaborate with a women's cooperative and create a collection of accessories collaboratively.
Keeping a product offering in the system through continued use and between multiple users creates the potential for interactions which become contaminated. These contaminated interactions can cause a barrier to material circulation and extended product lifetimes. This study seeks to identify the underlying design strategies useful in addressing contaminated interaction. Strategies were identified through an exploration of possible solutions to negative contamination in two phases. Phase I involved identifying 70 existing solutions to instances of negative contaminated interaction and abstracting these to identify a more fundamental underlying principle. In Phase II, designers participated in a brainstorming session to identify as many solutions as possible to several contaminated interaction design briefs. The resulting 155 solutions were analysed together with the other data to generate a final set of strategies. In the end, eight strategies distilled from the analysis which are used to address contaminated interaction. The strategies represent preventative and responsive solutions applicable to various elements of the contamination process.
The Internet is facilitating new ways of designing, manufacturing and distributing products. This has led to a more democratic, open-design approach and has resulted in users having more involvement in the design process than ever before. In particular, designers are shifting away from designing a finished product, to either designing components, a template or a set of tools which the user interacts with to finalise and/or personalise the product. This way of approaching design is still in its infancy. The authors' have termed this design framework, as it applies within product design, ‘user-completion’.
The authors' propose that the user-completion framework operates at the intersection between mass-customisation and craft. The skills and knowledge sets associated with mass-customisation and craft, presents challenges and opportunities for both the designer and user. The user-completion framework enables users to personalise the end product and therefore requires designers to shift their conceptual approach, by handing-over more design control to the users. It is hoped that by doing so, and by engaging the user in the product's completion, a stronger emotional bond will be generated between the user and the final product. This design process also anticipates an added value and a longer life cycle for the product.
The ‘user-completion’ framework proposed by the authors will be outlined, and supported with the three case study examples of work. Through these case studies the value of users being involved in the design process is explored, as is their engagement with craft and their perceived emotional value of the resulting products.
Sustainable business models and in particular Product Service Systems (PSS) are often linked to increased environmental performance. However, such benefits can only be achieved when the business model is intentionally set up to deliver those positive impacts, by incorporating issues around efficiency gains, through-life issues and sustainable consumption patterns into the design. Several start-ups are emerging who are pursuing new PSS business models but sustainability impacts are not always measured. Also, knowledge on how to iterate new sustainable business models through experimentation is sparse. This paper explores how companies can contribute to sustainable consumption through experimentation with new business models and in particular ‘pay per use’ business models. We apply knowledge on influencing consumer behaviour to develop business experiments. This paper includes an in-depth case study of HOMIE, a start-up pursuing a pay per use business model for home appliances (washing machines). An experimentation roadmap is presented for HOMIE. Effects of a range of experiments are included, such as providing information and social comparison. The pay per use business model was found to have the potential to help stimulate sustainable consumption patterns. For example, social comparison could be used effectively to stimulate more sustainable laundry behaviour. Future research could focus on mapping ideal sequences of experiments to achieve the greatest levels of sustainability impacts, and investigating other sustainable business models such as renting and sharing using the experimentation approach.
Current attempts to improve the ecological and social impact of production and consumption practices build on the recognized relevance of business models. Business models are distinct ways of coordinating the provision of goods and services, and they affect the ecological impact and social sustainability of the technologies underlying that provision. This is especially true for so-called sharing business models focused on peer-to-peer-based activities of obtaining, giving, or sharing the access to goods and services, coordinated through community-based online services.
Research on business models is rapidly developing. One characteristic of this work is that it tends to see business models as entities in themselves, with scant attention given to the context in which they occur. This is problematic, as the provision of a specific good or service is interlinked with others. As a result, the ecological and social impact of any business model is partially determined by the constellation of business models of which it is part.
In this paper, we address this gap in the literature, by conceptualizing the economy as an ecology of business models. Building on work in organization studies and biology, we identify typical relationships between business models, ranging from competitive to mutually supportive. We also identify typical relationships between business models and their habitat, which includes physical resources and spatial embedding, but encompasses the institutional infrastructure in a given society.
This study presents a methodology designed for selecting, from an environmental point of view, the best end-of-life strategy for electric and electronic equipment which breaks before the end of its life span. For that, the environmental impact of the life cycle of the equipment is evaluated considering two alternative end-of-life strategies: repair & reuse or replacement. The Life Cycle Assessment methodology is applied to evaluate the environmental performance of each scenario, taking ReCiPe as end-point impact assessment method. The methodology is applied to a representative sample of nine categories of small household electrical and electronic equipment, considering different types of repair for each category and the replacement of the equipment in different years of its lifespan. For all the analyzed categories, the repair & reuse strategy generally proved environmentally better performance than replacement. However, for some types of repairs, e.g., those related to engines or printed circuit boards, if they occur in later product life cycle stages, it is better to replace equipment as the environmental impact from their repair operations is so high than it does not compensate prolonging the years of useful life obtained.
From the moment of purchase, pristine objects are subjected to an array of stimuli including wear, impact, heat, light, water and air which alter their tactile and aesthetic properties. Material change is often regarded as ‘damage’ or ‘degradation’, but has potential to be used as a tool to engender emotional engagement to an object and extend product lifetimes. The potential benefits, and complications, associated with material change in the context of designing for the circular economy and other sustainable product service systems is discussed. We present a framework for designers to better understand how materials change with use, and in turn how people respond to materials as they change. Key challenges are identified which must be overcome to use this framework in design practice: people's physical interaction with objects is poorly understood, it is difficult to simulate material change, materials resources for designers do not provide information about material change, and people's responses to aged materials depend on a complex web of interacting factors.
Researchers across disciplines increasingly acknowledge that embracing the multi-sensory character of everyday perception can provide invaluable insights for social and design interventions that aim to improve the experience of products and services. Where fashion design traditionally focuses on the aesthetic, visual side of design, empirical studies prove that the way clothes feel, sound, or smell, is equally important for the way they are experienced and appreciated in everyday use. The aim of this paper is therefore to explore how users' sensory engagement with clothing can inform the creative practice of designers who wish to design for continuity and increased user satisfaction. Satisfaction with a garment often leads to its repeated use and accumulation of pleasurable memories that can both positively influence the active lifetime of the garment. The paper draws on my on-going PhD research and presents initial findings of the second phase of my project (in-progress), which consists of a series of wardrobe studies conducted in participant's homes. The results so far indicate that sensory experiences connected with clothing, although rarely explicitly acknowledged by users, can significantly affect user satisfaction and therefore deserve a greater attention in the context of sustainable design and design for longevity.
The circular economy is a platform to transition towards a more resource efficient system. Product service systems (PSS) and remanufacturing have been proposed as strategies to achieve material decoupling. Recent studies have found that their adoption has fallen short in the business-to-consumer sector, due to lack of consumer acceptance. Literature addressing this issue has failed to provide a systematic approach to the problem. By performing a structured search on Scopus and Web of Science, 24 papers focusing on consumer and user acceptance of remanufacturing and PSS were identified. By applying qualitative research methods, the articles were analysed using six categories: problem and research questions, definitions, theoretical background, issues, methods and research gaps. Resulting from the analysis an outline for a research agenda on the topic of consumer and user acceptance of PSS and remanufactured products is suggested. Such program needs to provide a definition of consumption, consumers and users in the circular economy including their role. It should explore external factors influencing acceptance, adoption and diffusion of PSS and remanufacturing such as cultural (norms, beliefs, codes) and demographic and their interaction to each other, to guide action. Answering this questions requires tools and devices from additional fields such as anthropology and sociotechnical studies complement the contributions already made by psychology and sociology.
The built environment is the most resource intensive sector of the economy, accounting for a significant share of the extracted materials and the total waste generated. Within the built environment the most recurrent replacements of building materials and components take place during fit-outs, which are the process of installing interior fittings, fixtures and finishes. These materials and components are frequently replaced in non-domestic buildings.
Non-domestic building fit-outs are therefore responsible for a significant consumption of materials and a large source of waste. However, they tend to go unnoticed and unmeasured in the research about sustainable buildings. The present work aims to study this research gap and analyse the potential for fit-outs to become more sustainable. The approach of this project ties in closely to the concept of circular economy, where materials are kept at their most useful state for as long as possible.
This paper provides a socio-technical descriptive framework of fit-out processes in office buildings. This descriptive framework contains a qualitative analysis of the roles and interactions of involved stakeholders regarding the material flow (based on interviews), and a quantitative material flow analysis (MFA) throughout the downstream supply chain (based on a fit-out case study). The mixed methodology used includes on-site observations, cross-examination of the corresponding design specifications or waste reports, and semi-structured interviews with the involved stakeholders.
The aim of this research is to provide a grounded perspective that allows the identification of process and design improvements that support the transition towards more “circular” fit-outs. It is concluded that there are potential areas of improvement as fit-out practices show a predominantly linear tendency both for decision making and material flows.
This paper explores the double diffusion of an electric vehicle Product Service System (PSS). The research is based on a case study of a use orientated PSS run by UK-based e-car club.
The double diffusion involves consumers being confronted with electric vehicles (EV) – a technical innovation, accessed through a car club – a PSS sociotechnical innovation. The paper explores the intertwining of these two innovations.
Using Practice Theory, the paper concentrates on meanings that users associate, or find lacking, in performing automobility through an EV car club. For an EV mobility PSS to diffuse, it is necessary to disassociate it from meanings of poor availability, range anxiety and concern about location of charging facilities and associate it with positive meanings of freedom, thrift, altruism and environmental protection. The offer of additional service through links with mobile phone apps could facilitate diffusion. These meanings appear to have stronger resonance among certain segments of car users than others, which suggest that insights offered by Practice Theory need to be complemented by other research perspectives to explore characteristics of individual users.
Product-service systems (PSS) have been proposed as one approach towards increasing product longevity and achieving a more sustainable, low-carbon economy. Encompassing a range of different strategies – including extended producer responsibility, repair and remanufacturing, product renting and sharing schemes, and pay-per-use services – PSS often include a shift to access-based consumption, where the product is no longer owned by the consumer. We propose that the shift in ownership, and thus the location of responsibility for products, may play a role in public acceptance of these schemes. We conducted a series of four two-day workshops with members of the public (n=51), to explore this issue, using deliberative techniques to explore public perceptions of product-service systems. Two scenarios and materials were presented, describing different forms of PSS with different arrangements for ownership and responsibility for products. Overall, we found that while participants were not explicitly concerned with the lack of ownership of products under these schemes, the redistribution of responsibility that accompanied this was a serious concern. This was often rooted in a lack of trust in businesses, as well as other consumers, and led to a range of conditions being placed on participation in PSS. As such, the successful introduction of product-service systems will only be possible if careful consideration is given, not only to price and affordability, but also to deeply held values pertaining to trust and responsibility.
During the 20th century the cultural and economic value of products dramatically changed as the availability and affordability of mass-produced, low cost goods increased in the marketplace (Walker, 2006). We buy things that end up never used, we store objects that are never needed, find the extra storage space for the object that doesn't fit in our house. Most of the things we own just sit there gathering dust, eventually to be thrown away although they are still perfectly functional. The exploration of ways to let go of objects has important implications beyond the conventional interpretation of object-user detachment. To care for one's possessions is as much about maintaining and repairing objects to keep as it is about letting objects go to a good home. In this sense, carative factors are a useful way to address ways of object-user detachment and help to promote re-use and repair to sustain and extend product lifespan.
This paper explores how the carative factors can be used to inspire and stimulate designers to explore ideas, and enable new ways to approach problems of attachment and consumption, and drive creative solutions that encourage letting go. A set of characteristic factors are presented in card format, serving as a stimulus toolkit and tested through a workshop and live design projects. The findings, potential benefits of the toolkit and effects on products lifespan will be further discussed.
The environmental impact of clothing could be reduced by extending garment lifetimes, and many clothing retailers are now exploring design for longevity as a sustainable approach. In order for products to meet durable design standards consistently, global supply chain processes must be managed and controlled to avoid quality problems and early product failure. This paper uses a single case study to explore the challenges of meeting specified durable product standards in production by tracing and observing the identification and resolution of a quality issue affecting the durability of luxury knitwear. The research demonstrates that new tests and processes could enable durable products to be produced more consistently, but also identifies the obstacles and limitations to implementing these enhanced procedures. The paper proposes that effective production management of durable clothing may be more difficult within global supply chains where differences in business culture, operational practice and knowledge exist between companies. Supply chain models that emphasise shared values, knowledge and information exchange, trust and collaboration are considered as the most effective in delivering sustainable products. It concludes by identifying a range of conflicting priorities between commercial and sustainable practice that must be addressed to achieve consistency in durable clothing production, and makes recommendations for industry and future research.
Many garments have short life-spans, contributing to excessive carbon emissions, water consumption and waste. This paper reports on a research project which aimed to identify expectations of clothing longevity, examine the NPD process within the supply chain and identify opportunities for change, evaluate the potential for innovative technologies and improved product testing, and explore business practices aimed at more sustainable approaches to NPD. The paper provides an overview of the two-year project, presenting key findings from data collection that included interviews with 31 industry practitioners, three consumer focus groups, three industry and consumer round tables, an expert workshop, and four pilot actions undertaken with UK clothing retailers to evaluate key issues. The research identified and explored themes relating to NPD that could enable increased garment lifetimes, which were consolidated into six areas: the adoption of advanced textile processes and finishing techniques, action to overcome constraints on appropriate product testing, the potential for retailers to influence consumer behaviour, a loss of technical expertise and lack of multi-disciplinary collaboration, failure to embed good practice early in the NPD process, and evidence to encourage retailers and brands to adopt new business models. Industry and government policy recommendations were proposed to improve knowledge-sharing, strengthen the business case and influence consumer behaviour, while further research may be needed on the adoption of new garment and textile technologies, the business case and the global context of the clothing industry.
Although Design for Sustainable Behaviour research has seen increasing attention over the last decade, limited attention has been directed towards behaviours relevant for a circular economy. To investigate this shortcoming, this paper collected empirical examples that reflect where these two research fields meet. The result of this analysis is presented as a grid consisting of nine dimensions of behaviour change (control, obtrusiveness, timing, exposure, meaning, importance, direction, encouragement and empathy) and four goals for circular economy (maintenance, reuse, refurbishment and recycling). The collection of behaviour change principles shows that examples for almost all combinations exist, with least being identified for refurbishment and most for recycling. This insight does not only give an indication on where attention has been directed previously, but also suggests areas where there may be a need for further development of behaviour principles. The overview of examples of behaviour changing principles related to circular economy may also foster inspiration among practitioners both within Design for Sustainable Behaviour and circular economy.
The Circular Pathfinder tool, which provides guidance to companies looking for appropriate circular design strategies, was developed based on OEM (original equipment manufacturer) case studies. Ease of use was one of the main requirements during development of the tool, resulting in a software-based guide that asks a maximum of ten product-related questions, after which it gives a recommendation for one or more specific circular design strategies. The advantage of a practice-based tool is that the practical relevance is, in all likelihood, high. The disadvantage, however, is the lack of scientific validation. This paper presents a literature review of the decision variables and heuristics of the Circular Pathfinder, with the aim to uncover any discrepancies between practice and literature. The main finding is that the focus on practical usefulness of the tool has led to excessive reduction of the complexity inherent in strategic circular design decisions. Recommendations for improving the Circular Pathfinder tool are given.
This paper explores the narrative of peoples' relationships with products as a window on understanding the types of innovation that may inform a culture of sufficiency. The work forms part of the ‘Business as Unusual: Designing Products with Consumers in the Loop’ [BaU] project, funded as part of the UK EPSRC-ESRC RECODE network (RECODE, 2016) that aims to explore the potential of re-distributed manufacturing (RdM) in a context of sustainability. This element of the project employed interviews, mapping and workshops as methods to investigate the relationship between people and products across the product lifecycle. A focus on product longevity and specifically the people-product interactions is captured in conversations around product maintenance and repair. In exploring ideas of ‘broken’ we found different characteristics of, and motivations for, repair. Mapping these and other product-people interactions across the product lifecycle indicated where current activity is, who owns such activity (i.e. organisation or individual) where gaps in interactions occur. These issues were explored further in a workshop which grouped participants to look at products from the perspective of one of four scenarios; each scenario represented either short or long product lifespans and different types of people engagement in the design process. The findings help give shape to new scenarios for designing sufficiency-based social models of material flows.