Toward the design of a generic model of interoperability for Siec Siec : Eco-Design Information System (In French : Système d’Information pour l’Eco-Conception)

Abstract: Faced with the need to take into account environmental impacts, life cycle analysis (LCA) should emerge as an engine of innovation and eco-design. It is clear that there are many barriers to their deployment. There is a need in terms of tools to facilitate their integration in the trades. So these LCA tools must be compatible
with different existing information systems. In addition, it’s also necessary that the coupling of the different data sources helps to make a decision. This article shows the needs of the company ACV Plus in terms of interoperability and HCI (Human-computer Interaction) so that the Siec could easily adapt to various
business sectors. Various peripheral tools have been developed to define data exchange formats to meet specific needs. This research aims to develop a generic bus in order to have an easier maintenance of process and avoid having an application for each need. Two thesis have been started in ESEO that one focuses on aspects of HCI and the other on aspects related to interoperability. More generally, the project aims to develop a new system with interoperable design tools


Several software systems have been proposed to compute LCAs a list of them is published on the website of the Institute for Environment and Sustainability, a joint Research Centre of the European Commission [1]. The main functionalities of the existing systems are usually restricted to the transformation of non-elementary flows to elementary flows in order to calculate a list of traditional basic impacts. Moreover, these tools are mainly dedicated to environmental specialists and it is difficult for a novice to use them to compute indicators and use them for decision making. This has very negative effects on the use of these systems; for example, the difficulties met by designers to use the existing LCA tools have been identified by several authors [2, 3, 4, 5, 6] as a barrier to the use of these tools in support of eco-design. In fact, a study carried out in 2007 among a number of French companies and related in [7] concluded that the failure of LCA to provide a real help in eco-design is one of the main reasons for which enterprises are reluctant in initiating an eco-design practice. The above observations led us to think that to be of real use, LCA tools should go beyond this stage, be fully customizable and adaptable to business and domain specific issues by allowing the definition of goals, indicators, regulations, properties … thus providing each department of the enterprise with a specifically adapted view of the LCA. Finally, an LCA system should be able to integrate in the enterprise’s information system and be fully interoperable with its components : databases, Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP), Computer Aided Design (CAD) tools, … Such were the main ideas from which originated the development of the SIEC system (SIEC is an acronym for “Système d’Information pour l’éco-Conception” meaning “Information System for Eco-Design” in French)  [8].
In the second section of this article we describe the SIEC system ( its components, modules and the diversity of its databases) and how its use can be adapted to specific domains and businesses. In the third section we describe all tools developed by our company and which will be used to collect data (provider information, selection of materials, add some specific module) and we present the relation with our SIEC system. In Fourth section we describe the architecture model that will be implemented to make the interoperability between SIEC and various tools. Finally, we conclude and present our future directions of work.

Other environmental Databases of statistical type (example: Air Chief, Bilan Carbone ®, CORINAIR …) to facilitate interpretation of results for non-expert users in EA Databases environmental / non-environmental (example: statistical data related to the chemical composition of materials, their collection rate, their PCI, their recycled content…) to shed more light and meet regulatory requirements Database User For example, it may be expected functions for the studied specimens, material properties…


Companies have to do the integration process quickly and cost effectively, but still preserve the architecture and deliver robust solutions that are maintainable over time. In today’s business scenario challenges include the development of closer business partnerships, improvements in supply chain, customer support services and streamlining processes to achieve organizational efficiency

The majority of companies, however, still have existing old applications, developed using different architectures and technologies that have usually not been designed for integration. Companies can’t afford to replace them quickly, because they are mission critical; also they can’t afford to develop their entire information systems from scratch in today’s business environment.

Data-level integration is often the starting point where a company starts to work on integration. ETL process and ESB are two data integration solution to achieve this result [9, 10]. The purpose of this study is to search the solution from existing approaches to propose which one is most suitable for the web application.

Integration architecture is usually built in several layers. The most important types of integration are:

Data-level integration Application integration

Business process integration

SIEC centralizes in one collaborative platform all the data needed to design a product (performance, environmental quality, costs) and its Life Cycle Analysis. Siec contains and can use simultaneously different types of databases for various purposes:

Classical databases ACV (Eco-Invent, Buwal, ELCD, NREL …) to make outputs similar to traditional software ACV

The team Siec ® works continuously on various external data sources to expand the interoperability of SIEC. Currently targeted sources are the various Computer-aided design (CAD) tools, Excel files, Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems (figure 1). Also SIEC integrate new data model called PIVOT System which is a device that allows it to integrate environmental issues specific to each project, regardless of the industry, including ensuring the correspondence between:

LCA databases

Physicochemical properties Other environmental data

Data from other design tools (CAD, Excel, ERP ….)

Designer database

ACV Plus target the ability of the System to use data from external data sources by making common interface, this interface should be the only data transfer canal, this canal aim to assure the collect of information from different type external tools and heterogenic systems.

Figure 1: Siec database and external data source.



Integration enables ACV Plu s to best exploit changes in its business environment. A good integrated environment exposes the functionality of otherwise incompatible applications to share data and to manage the transfer of data.


Figure 2: Functional mod el of ChronoSiec.



Currently, the SIEC is able to a ccomplish nearly all users’ requirements like creat ion of products, analyzing, etc.
However, the accomplishment is not the only object of SIEC, because other LCA tools may also have the same functions as in SIEC’s.

The ACV Plus Company wants to have a better integration in the design processes, that’s why a researching project around of the in teroperability has been launched. (Team Sliman H . Camp Olivier, Bigaud David, Mongi Smati).

The research concerning on t he HCI (Human-computer Interaction) ensures th at the three key terms “Fast”, “Simple”, “Interactive” are widely presented in the SIEC design. The team who works around the HCI is composed of (B eaudoux Olivier, Saubion Frédéric, YANG Mengqiang). These tw teams work together because the ir objectives are complementary.

The SIEC system consists of the main software called Siec Genius and applications for different requirements.
Following are some peripheral t ools for SIEC:
Chronosiec is also a small application of 20M which contains many LCA database (Eco-Invent, Buwal, LCA Food, Siec …) a nd the user is capable of adding lots of product ele ments. This allows all participants to use the same language and avoid mapping which are often long and tedious.

The construction of the data for each provider is intuitive by dragging boxes which are predefined (product, component, piece, m aterial …).


CHRONOSIEC is a tool which facilitates to rapidly construct a full product with its providers. A user could also accomplish this activity in SIEC, but with the current technology in SIEC, the creation of the elements takes a lot of tim e. Moreover, the interface of creation is not intuitive .

However, with the help of CHRONOSIEC which adopts a recent technology has an intuitive interface. A user is capable to create a product with its necessary elements rapidly and intuitively. Additionally, it’s not necessary to connect to SIEC data center to use CHRONOSIEC, so a user is able to create a product independently and import this product into SIEC after finishing his project.


SIECMAT is another in dependent tool which allows choosing the materials by certain requirements. A user could select the filter conditions and import the pr eferred materials into SIEC after analyzing.

This tool concerns more in material domain, it gives SIEC another function. Because not all users are interested in the materia l, this separated tool share a part of SIEC works so that SIEC is not too heavy for users. It has been developed by a strong collaboration between researc hers ACV Plus, Arts et Métiers Paris Tech (ENSAM) and ESEO.

Unlike ChronoSiec, the application SiecMat allows doing calculations in order to classify the materials in terms of their performance.


Figure 3: Material performance (Capture from SiecMat)

SiecMat is coupled to an American database “Mat Web” which contains more than 90 000 references and the database of CES EduPack.

After analyzing, the user can export these materials and compare then in SiecGenius in the environmental plan (Figure 4).


Figure 4: Functional model of SiecMat.


Nowadays, there exist several LCA tools and some LCA Tools like SIMAPRO have more than ten years’ history in the market. It’s possible that th e users worked already some other LCA tools before SIEC, and may have the important data that they don’t want to lose or spend time to rebuild.

SIECTRANSFERT tool enable users to import the data of these LCA tools into SIEC.

If someone used another LCA tool and now he wants to use SIEC, he won’t lose any time to re-build the products that he already created, SIECTRANSFERT can analyze the files of other LCA tools and generate a file with SIEC format which is recognized by SIEC.

Figure 5 shows different steps to transform data from external tools to Siec Genius.

Figure 5: Functional model of SiecTransfert.

3.4 CAD Interoperability

In certain industrial domains, the CAD softwares like AutoCAD, 3DXML Player are frequently used to make the project drawings.

Thanks to the “Interoperability CAD” tool, SIEC is capable of importing the files of these CAD softwares and generate directly a product with its associated elements as shown in figure 6.

Figure 6: CAD interoperability components.

3.5 EXCEL Interoperability

Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet application developed by Microsoft and widely used in our world.

By using the “EXCEL Interoperability” tool, the users are able to import the EXCEL files (xlsx or xls format) into SIEC and generate directly a product with its associated elements.

Figure 7 explain the principle of excel interoperability.


Figure 7: Functional model of EXCEL Interoperability


Actually, the peripheral tools work directly and independently with SIEC like SIECMAT, CHRONOSIEC, but a user has to download several tools if he wants to perform more than one activity. Moreover, there has no communication between these tools.

Thus, in order to build a communication and connection between these tools, ACV Plus is now searching a solution for integrating the peripheral tools.

This diagram (figure 8) represents the current mechanism of the communication between SIEC and the peripheral tools. Each tool communicates directly with SIEC.

Figure 8: Communication mechanism between SIECand the peripheral tools.

The purpose of ACV Plus is integrating all these tools into one single package (figure 10). Each function could communicate and share information with others in this package. The communication between SIEC and these functions will be standardized and unified. In the near future, it’s not necessary to work independently with the peripheral tools because all these tools will be integrated together.


Figure 9: Proposal interoperability model betweenSIEC and the external tools.

In addition, the research focusing on HCI for Siec System is cooperated with ESSO[11] in order to have a better operation in creating product and its elements like in ChronoSiec.


In this article the current Siec situation and the communication procedure with peripheral tools have been briefly presented. In order to develop the system which achieves to the expectations of LCA experts, it’s necessary to build a solid architecture to have interoperability between Siec and external data source and tools. We have already started the implementation work to connect Siec with existing CAD tools and ERP system. However, more analysis and experiments of different fields of activity which may be useful to Siec, are still needed to identify the components to define generic models for integration.



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