November 4, 2017

Industry 4.0 as a solution to improve sustainability of manufacturing

Ishaan Kaushal

PhD student

Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru

The goal of this research is to bring ‘sustainable manufacturing’ into the industry. The first step towards reaching this goal is to collect real-time data to assess the sustainability of  manufacturing systems. The assessment of sustainability is not a new research area in manufacturing domain, as there are several assessment methods such as LCA, OECD sustainable manufacturing toolkit , Global Report Initiative (GRI) that are supported by tools like GaBi, SimaPro, GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines etc. In a broader sense, each method traces a product from the material phase to the usage phase, which involves several kinds of transformation steps. At each step, identifying social, economic, and environmental impact is necessary.

A major limitation of these methods is that impacts are calculated for a specific condition and a given surrounding. Using these impact values in a geographically different location (or) in a later period of time would not provide a reliable measure of sustainability. Life cycle inventory data must be obtained in a rapid fashion and must have important characteristics, such as transparency, quality, and the ability to reflect changes when new information is secured. With the advent of smart manufacturing concepts like Cyber-Physical Production Systems (CPPS), a plausible solution for this issue would be to develop CPPS to track each element (process, person, resources, equipment, environment) of a manufacturing system at every instant of time. Currently, this work is focused on developing framework for robust sustainability assessment using smart manufacturing concepts.