This research was aimed at improving the overall efficiency of the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) Serra da Estrela cheese production process, a traditional food product with cultural significance. Mapping of the manufacturing and distribution processes was developed from systemic analysis using ethnographic techniques. Critical points were identified, leading to design work. Ergonomic risks in cheese making were detected during the process of chips cutting, fostering the emergence of musculoskeletal disorders of the wrist. A tool that better fitted the job was developed. The systemic analysis provided a relational link across the boundaries of distinct domains approached through the research, including microorganism contamination, ergonomics, energy efficiency, legislation and regulation policies, transportation challenges and economic viability. Based on an analysis that connected various disciplines, maintaining a holistic perspective, a development plan to tackle critical points identified in the system was created. The results ripple across the triple bottom line of sustainability, demonstrating how systemic analysis and design are at the service of improving sustainability. By unveiling and acting on critical points that pushed the system away from zero waste, the environment is conserved; the preservation of cultural heritage has social significance; and the efficiency gains obtained in production attend financial goals.
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