GeProNet – Business Processes and Network Management in Closed-Loop Supply Chains to enable Product Cycles

Funding: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Duration: From 2007 to 2009



  • Jenny Steinborn


Project Partners

  • Institut für Werkzeugmaschinen und Fertigungstechnik
  • Wolfsburger Abfallwirtschaft und Straßenreinigung
  • ELPRO GmbH
  • adp Gauselmann GmbH
  • Kosatec Computer GmbH
  • CCR Logistics Systems AG

Under subcontract:

  • Kerp Engineering GmbH
  • tegos GmbH


Initial Situation and Problem

The current legal regulations (e.g. WEEE, ELV) pave the way for the development from a source-to-sink economy to a closed-loop economy. In the foreground stands the paradigm “avoidance prior exploitation prior disposal” whereas the circuitry and reuse of products constitute a form of waste prevention.

Nowadays, the implementation of these regulations takes place in a passive and collective take-back-system which aims at material recycling and energy recovery. Here the potentials of a functional product recycling are not exploited sufficiently.

The closure of product-loops and the multiple usages of products, respectively components, possess a multiplicity of potentials in different areas:

Among the economic potentials are the generation of revenues through the resale on secondary markets and the cost-efficient recovery of reusable spare parts or components for the primary production. Moreover, cost-saving-potentials in the context of bridge over of delivery bottlenecks result from recovered components.

Next to the mentioned economic benefits furthermore ecological potentials arise from the circuitry of products. Benefits result from the reduction of material and energy usage during the production-process of new products, since the functionality of products and components are maintained. Hence, they can recirculate to further phases of usage. The refurbishment and reuse of products thus lead to an increase of the raw material productivity and the reduction of the consumption of resources.

Regarding social aspects, the resulting price-reduction through the distribution on secondary markets potentiate the input of high-value industrial goods in financially weak SME or the supply of social weak households respectively schools and other public utilities with high-value consumer goods. In addition the implementation of a high grade product recycling features potentials for the employment in affected enterprises.

The preconditions for the utilization of these potentials are the identification of products and manufacturer-specific product take-back. To display this efficiently, optimized structures and operations between the actors in the closed loop supply chain are necessary.  Against this background the goal of the project is the configuration and coordination of dynamic networks and business processes for active, manufacturer-specific take-back systems and product reuse. Through this an economic presentable practice of divers options of a high-value and functional product-recycling should be accomplished. Another objective of the project is the development of reference business processes for these procedures in the closed loop supply chain and the implementation in an integrated concept for a persistent IT-assistance.


Objective and Approach

Altogether the research project consists of three project-phases. In Phase A (strategic design) and B (operative coordination) fundamentals for the areas network management, process management and IT management are enhanced to enable an economic reasonable implementation of product-circuitry. In phase C the practical implementation of the approaches in the three case studies occurs.


Further Information

For further information about this research project please refer to: