Redesigning Adria Caravans for a Circular Economy

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Abstract

This project started with the following assignment: redesign the Adria Action caravan to fit in a circular economy and to have less CO2 emissions. However, the outcome of this project is not a redesign of a caravan but a framework for Adria to work towards (partial) circular As an example of the functioning of this framework, a redesign of the bathroom floor was done.To get to know the particular caravan and the caravan industry an analysis of the context was conducted. An eco-analysis on material basis of the Action caravan was done and visits to experts in the industry, repairmen and a caravan recycling company, were made. The main conclusions from the analysis were that the structural body has the most value, both economically as environmentally, and therefore needs to be used for a longer time. There already is an effort made but it is complicated due to components that are hard to repair and due to a lack of support and instructions and availability of spare parts. In the caravan industry and this company there is also little standardization which means there are a lot of unique parts. This makes it hard to find fitting components and to reuse perfectly good components in other vehicles. The successful business of repair and recycling companies shows that there is value after the sale of the caravan but it is made unnecessary complex to retain this value by the organization of the caravan companies.The framework shows that designing caravans for a circular economy involves more aspects than just redesigning the individual parts for reuse, repair and recycling possibilities. There are different levels on which actions can take place and to become completely circular, these levels must work together. First, analytical capabilities, such as LCA and hot spot mapping, are needed to assess the current condition of the caravans and evaluate improvements. To do this, a different way of documenting will be required within Adria. Next, with this objective way of assessing the caravan, focus points can be found and components can be redesigned using the circular economy ideals. Those adjustments can then again be evaluated.One of the focus points found is the bathroom floor. It is a critical part because it protects the frame from moisture, the bathroom is not functional without the floor and it is very difficult to disassemble and reassemble the floor. At the moment, the floor is being repaired with polyurethane, which restores the value of the caravan at that time, but the repair makes the component non-recyclable and therefore no longer part of the circular economy. It is more sustainable to replace the tray as a whole. So when redesigning the tray, it was looked at how this can be done easier. It requires minor adjustments to the part and larger adjustments at a company level. On a company level, some variables should be agreed on as a fixed standard. This makes future designs backward compatible and therefore makes it easy and cost-efficient to produce an extra part when a customer orders it, enabling the replacement of the tray.