Sustainability

Recent Posts

Precipice of Green Manufacturing Sustainability

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Manufacturing sustainability targets are under pressure by investors and government. Green steel, recyclable materials, energy consumption, and water usage are among the top focus areas for improvement. All the while manufacturers find solutions for shipping container and semi...

Assembly Line

Fresh milk and cream: increasing capacities for returnable bottles

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Author: Christine Rüth

Topics: Sustainability

Vertical: Beverage

Organizations: Krones

Fresh milk produced using traditional methods is the cream of the crop. The Berchtesgadener Land dairy fills this precious commodity in glass bottles. To meet the soaring demand for milk in returnable bottles, the cooperative has replaced its returnable-glass line, which fills organic and mountain farmers’ milk and cream.

The most important requirement for the new line was quality, both in regard to the machines and systems and the products made on them. “Production lines for traditional fresh milk must always give reliable service. We don’t have time for long maintenance routines,” emphasises Althammer. The milk is delivered to the dairy every day and must be dispatched fast, in order to guarantee retailers a minimum shelf life in the cold chain of eight days. What’s more, complying with stringent cleanliness standards in production is the top priority for filling this unsterilised milk. Germs carried in from outside result in faster milk spoilage, meaning the required shelf life would then not be met. When filling into returnable bottles, moreover, contaminated empties must not be allowed to enter the filling zone. That entails stringent requirements for the bottle washer, the filler and overall hygiene standards for the line.

Read more at Krones Magazine

How Amazon learned to cut its cardboard waste

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Author: Sean O'Neill

Topics: Sustainability

Organizations: Amazon

David Gasperino, an Amazon principal research scientist, led the technical development of PackOpt, which is helping Amazon’s stakeholders to not only minimize the amount of “air” shipped to customers, but also helping Amazon deliver on its Climate Pledge commitment to reaching net-zero carbon emissions across its business by 2040.

“To create an optimal set of boxes, you need to select a small subset of columns to pack all of the shipments, and those columns must lead to the smallest overall box volume when you sum it all up,” explains Gasperino. It is a hard challenge — literally. “This problem belongs to a theoretical class of problems called ‘NP hard’

Read more at Amazon Science

The 100% Recyclable Running Shoe That’s Only Available by Subscription

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Author: Ed Ballard

Topics: Sustainability, Recycling

Vertical: Apparel

Organizations: On Holding, Arkema

To make a shoe that can be ground up, melted down and reincarnated as another shoe, Swiss sportswear brand On didn’t just need new materials and manufacturing processes. It designed a new sales model. In June, On began shipping the first 10,000 pairs of its latest model, starting with U.S. customers. The Cloudneo is pitched as “the shoe you will never own.” Instead, runners pay $29.99 a month for an endless supply, provided they return worn-out pairs to be recycled. On executives say this arrangement will lock in a supply of raw material for new shoes, reducing waste.

Read more at Wall Street Journal (Paid)

Turntide Technologies Exceeds $1 Billion Valuation With $80 Million Fundraise to Accelerate Decarbonization of Buildings, Equipment, and Vehicles

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Topics: Funding Event, Sustainability

Organizations: Turntide Technologies

Turntide Technologies (“Turntide”), developer of breakthrough electrification and sustainable operations technologies, today announced it secured $80 million in equity funding, valuing the company over $1 billion, making it one of a handful of climate tech companies to achieve unicorn status in the first half of 2022. 

Addressing climate change is more urgent than ever, and we are grateful to work with an investor base that is committed to achieving meaningful, near-term emissions impact,” said Ryan Morris, Chairman and CEO of Turntide. “Even in the face of global economic uncertainty and supply chain upheaval, the market demand for Turntide’s sustainability solutions has enabled us to secure new investments. This capital will accelerate and further scale our efforts to decarbonize the world’s most energy-intensive industries.” 

Read more at Turntide Press Releases

Researchers Consider the Circular Economy in Pulp and Paper Industries

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Author: Reginald Davey

Topics: Sustainability

Vertical: Pulp and Paper

Organizations: University of Aveiro, University of Coimbra

The paper and pulp industries can benefit greatly from a cyclical model of manufacture. These industries are responsible for the consumption of most of the lignocellulosic biomass produced in the world. In 2020, the European paper and pulp industries alone consumed an estimated 146.5 million cubic meters of wood. The transition to a green economy approach is a chief concern in these industries.

Read more at AZO Materials

Sensible CO2 recycling

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Author: Christopher Eberl

Topics: Sustainability

Organizations: voestalpine

Carbon dioxide from technical processes should no longer impact the climate. That is why a key objective of the voestalpine decarbonization strategy is to avoid its generation. But as long as carbon remains an indispensable component, for example in the production of high-quality steels, researchers are also looking into solutions to prevent or recycle CO2 emissions. In cooperation with a team from the K1-MET metallurgical research competence center, voestalpine is tackling this challenge.

Read more at Voestalpine Blog

Can AI help create less carbon-intensive concrete?

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Topics: Sustainability

Organizations: IBM

Cement is a popular binding and fortifying agent with a high production cost (and we’re not talking about $$): For every ton of cement produced, at least one ton of CO2 is released into the atmosphere—adding up to at least 8% of annual global emissions. The researchers trained a generative AI model on environmental impact data and a small public dataset. Using semi-supervised learning, the model sought out concrete formulas that checked all of the researchers’ boxes: 1) lower carbon footprint, 2) significant compressive strength, and 3) similar durability and other qualities.

Read more at Emerging Tech Brew

Towards a more circular production in Scania Oskarshamn

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Topics: Circular Economy, Sustainability

Vertical: Automotive

Organizations: Scania

Great achievements towards a more circular production are made at Scania’s cab factory In Oskarshamn, Sweden, since 2019. The production is fossil free since 2020, more material is recycled, and the energy consumption has decreased with several thousand MWh.

Read more at Scania News

The beverage sector moving towards sustainable factories

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Author: Christine Rüth

Topics: Sustainability

Organizations: Krones

Nevertheless, sustainability consultancy is not tied to Krones products, as Bernd Rothmeier explains: “In the early phases of project development in particular, it is important to focus on identifying the optimum solution, irrespective of possible vendors. We will always consider any and all innovative technologies available on the market.” The department offers comprehensive sustainability consultancy as a separate service for the beverage, dairy and plastics-recycling industries.

Read more at Krones Magazine

Nissan Intelligent Factory

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Topics: Sustainability

Organizations: Nissan

Nissan introduced the Nissan Intelligent Factory initiative at its plant to respond to these needs and trends. Nissan Intelligent Factory enables Nissan to: Use robots that have inherited the skills of takumi to manufacture next-generation vehicles; of the highest quality, Create an improved environment where a wide range of people can work comfortably, and; Realize a zero-emission production system, thereby accelerating efforts to achieve a decarbonized society.

Read more at Nissan Innovation Library

A new perspective on the mining industry

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Author: Fleur Doidge

Topics: Sustainability, Blockchain

Vertical: Mining

Organizations: Minexx

Certain geologies and structures ultimately have different vulnerabilities. Entering known data into a simulated environment or kind of digital twin, can help figure out the unknowns, assisting miners to decide where and how to apply their efforts. This is essential for remotely managed or autonomous vehicles that can achieve low waste, and efficient extractions in harsh or dangerous locations. Autonomous vehicles can actually extend operation hours, increasing productivity as well as reducing the use of energy hungry and personnel centred equipment. In an IoT network these may increasingly incorporate ‘intelligent’ or ‘smart’ devices that not only store or transmit but process data – as in a ‘smart factory’. “We’re seeing opportunities with sustainability oriented projects in Canada and Europe,” Sym-Smith says.

Minexx’s software platform uses blockchain digital distributed ledger, payments, biometric and IoT technologies to create much-needed trust and transparency around quality and methods of production. This helps clients manage aspects of know your customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering regulations as well, giving them and the artisanal miners access to markets and better prices. “Once data is on the blockchain, you can’t change it. Then essentially you give the manufacturer the key,” Scaramanga says.

Read more at The Engineer

The business of sustainability in steelmaking

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Author: Jim Montague

Topics: Sustainability

Vertical: Primary Metal

Organizations: ArcelorMittal, Schneider Electric

These upgrades at the Train 2 plant allowed ArcelorMittal to save 15-20% on installation, reduce downtime by 5-10%, save 170 equivalent metric tons of CO2, and prevent reprocessing 26 tons of materials. Sensor-based equipment condition monitoring also let the steelmaker’s staff track energy use and identify potential faults before they cause downtime. These improvements also increase the facility’s installation reliability, energy efficiency, personnel safety and equipment life with predictive maintenance.

Read more at Control Global

Make Digital Twins an Integral Part of Your Sustainability Program

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Authors: Paige Marie Morse, Geeta Pherwani

Topics: Digital Twin, Sustainability

Vertical: Chemical

Organizations: AspenTech

Digital solutions provide the visibility, analysis and insight needed to address the challenges inherent in sustainability goals. A digital twin strategy as part of an overall digitalization plan can be a crucial capability for asset intensive industries such as refining and chemicals. A digital twin needs to encompass the entire asset lifecycle and value chain from design and operations through maintenance and strategic business planning.

Comprehensive sustainability solutions are stretching the capabilities of thermodynamic first principle-based digital twins and driving the need for the next generation of solutions. Reduced order hybrid models offer a critical capability to achieve digitalization, sustainability and business goals faster. Reduced-order models can abstract models to enterprise views which inform executive awareness and strategic decision-making. Site-wide models can run faster and more intuitively to drive agile decision-making and optimize assets to achieve safety, sustainability and profit.

Read more at Automation

Design for Sustainability

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Topics: Sustainability, Circular Economy

Organizations: Fractory

Typically, product designers select a few focuses, for instance, design for manufacturing (DFM), design for assembly (DFA) and design for reliability (DFR), and optimise those aspects of the product. Every design decision is evaluated in the light of the selected focus or focuses and relevant changes are then made taking the full life cycle of the product into account.

A sustainable alternative to this system is the circular economy. The main focus of this type of economic model is to reintroduce used parts as raw materials for new products. The intent is to move from a high-waste to a high-value model. Such a system is highly resource-efficient and reduces the effect of consumer demand on the exploration, pollution, and wastage of natural resources. Models such as biomimicry, cradle-to-cradle, product service systems (PSS), 4Rs, are all strategies that can provide design features to achieve a circular economy.

Read more at Fractory Engineering Blog

How 3D printing improves sustainability across the supply chain

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Topics: Sustainability, Additive Manufacturing

Organizations: Replique

After analyzing several studies about energy efficiency of 3D printing, the answer is not as simple. Due to very individual use cases (machine, product and process characteristics), comparability of traditional methods and 3D printing is not always generally possible. While compared with subtractive methods, 3D printing can be more energy efficient (especially due to lesser material consumption). The energy consumption of 3D printing compared to injection molding is generally considered to be higher due to a way longer production time per part (less than a minute per part for injection molding, several hours for 3D printing). However, other factors such as the energy consumption for producing the mold, the production volume and material efficiency have to be taken into account. When looking into lower volumes, it becomes a fact that additive manufacturing is a more sustainable production method, regarding energy efficiency.

Read more at Replique Blog

Sensors: Data for next-gen composites manufacturing

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Author: Ginger Gardiner

Topics: Sustainability

Organizations: Collo, Synthesites

Suppliers of dielectric sensors such as Lambient Technologies (Cambridge, Mass., U.S.), Netzsch (Selb, Germany) and Synthesites (Uccle, Belgium) have also demonstrated their ability to shorten cycle times. Synthesites reported from R&D projects with composites manufacturers Hutchinson (Paris, France) and Bombardier Belfast, now Spirit AeroSystems (Belfast, Ireland), that it was able to reduce the cure cycle for RTM6 by 30-50% based on real-time measurements of resin electrical resistance and temperature, which are converted into estimated viscosity and Tg by its Optimold data acquisition unit and Optiview software. “The manufacturer can see the Tg in real time, so they can decide when to stop the cure cycle,” explains Synthesites director Nikos Pantelelis. “They don’t have to wait to complete a longer-than-necessary legacy cycle. For example, the legacy cycle for RTM6 is 2 hours at 180°C for full cure. We’ve seen that in certain geometries this can go down to 70 minutes.”

Read more at CompositesWorld

ABB’s Paper Mill Technology Helps Renewcell Turn Old Clothes Into New Fabrics

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Author: Jim Vinoski

Topics: Circular Economy, Sustainability, Recycling

Vertical: Pulp and Paper, Textiles

Organizations: ABB, Renewcell

In recent years, the pulp and paper industry has gone from having a reputation of being dirty and environmentally unfriendly to being a leader in sustainability and pollution control. Now the technologies that enabled that transition are being used to help the textile industry too. And the players involved are restarting a shuttered paper mill in Sweden to make it happen, once more providing good-paying jobs for the area.

Renewcell is the Sweden-based scaleup at the center of it all. The company developed a sustainable process that recycles waste textiles into a product called Circulose, whose name is the tip-off that it’s aimed at making fashion circular.

Read more at Forbes

How pioneering deep learning is reducing Amazon’s packaging waste

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Author: Sean O'Neill

Topics: Machine Learning, Computer Vision, Convolutional Neural Network, Sustainability, E-commerce

Organizations: Amazon

Fortunately, machine learning approaches — particularly deep learning — thrive on big data and massive scale, and a pioneering combination of natural language processing and computer vision is enabling Amazon to hone in on using the right amount of packaging. These tools have helped Amazon drive change over the past six years, reducing per-shipment packaging weight by 36% and eliminating more than a million tons of packaging, equivalent to more than 2 billion shipping boxes.

“When the model is certain of the best package type for a given product, we allow it to auto-certify it for that pack type,” says Bales. “When the model is less certain, it flags a product and its packaging for testing by a human.” The technology is currently being applied to product lines across North America and Europe, automatically reducing waste at a growing scale.

Read more at Amazon Science

Humber Zero: decarbonising an industrial cluster

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Author: Jason Ford

Topics: sustainability

The Humber is an industrial hub with an economy worth £18bn GVA and where one in ten jobs is associated with heavy industry. Two oil refineries, the second largest chemicals and process clusters, and an integrated steelworks all contribute to the Humber being the most carbon-intensive industrial cluster in the UK.

Blue hydrogen is the main focus at Immingham although Phillips 66 is progressing Gigastack, a green hydrogen project separate to Humber Zero that along with project partners ITM, Ørsted and Element Energy aims to generate green hydrogen and electricity from nearby offshore wind and electrolysis.

Read more at The Engineer

How Eastman Strives for a Circular Plastics Economy

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Topics: sustainability, circular economy, recycling

Vertical: Chemical

Organizations: Eastman Chemical

“Mechanical recycling—where you go out and take items like single-use bottles, chop, wash and re-meld them and put them back into textiles or bottles—can only really address a small portion of the plastics that are out there,” Crawford said. After a few cycles, the polymers in the products degrade and the process is no longer possible.

Instead, Eastman uses advanced, also known as molecular or chemical, recycling. “We unzip the plastic back to its basic building blocks, then purify those building blocks to create new materials,” Crawford said. This “creates an infinite loop because that polymer can go through that process time and time again.”

Read more at NAM

Never Heard of Recycled Paint? You Have Now! - Dulux Trade Evolve

Material World: A Greener and Smarter Future for Textile Production

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Author: Abigail Saltmarsh

Topics: sustainability, recycling

Vertical: Textile

Organizations: Verteego, SoftWear Automation

The environmental impact of textile production is well documented, with the industry as a whole ranking second only to oil in terms of global pollution levels. Massive energy and water use, together with sky-high levels of discarded chemicals and landfill waste are all key drivers in the calls for closed-loop production.

“3D design packages help designers optimize materials and design for minimal or zero waste, for example through lay efficiencies when laying pattern pieces out, or through calculating how to knit a garment in one piece without any yarn waste. Smart processes can also influence sourcing and supply strategies, for example through using computer algorithms to predicts waste or production inefficiencies, or fabric performance issues.”

Read more at DirectIndustry

Why more manufacturers are turning to microgrids

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Author: Brent Tracy

Topics: energy consumption, sustainability

Microgrids offer manufacturers a flexible platform to head off these issues — ensuring power is reliable, enabling renewable energy for sustainability goals, controlling energy costs and attracting customers and investors that want manufacturers to continuously raising the bar on ESG performance. A microgrid can help control energy generation, usage and cost stability.

A well-designed microgrid can bring efficient, low-cost power as well as reliability and resiliency benefits to critical infrastructure. A microgrid with robust controls and up-to-date cybersecurity supports operational flexibility while providing predictable costs optimized for both efficiency and sustainability.

An investment in a microgrid can act as insurance for continued growth, success and innovation. A power disruption brings vulnerability, loss of time and money — a microgrid puts you back in charge.

Read more at Plant Engineering

Flash Joule heating by Rice lab recovers precious metals from electronic waste in seconds

Global Lighthouse Network: Unlocking Sustainability through Fourth Industrial Revolution Technologies

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Topics: sustainability, IIoT

Organizations: World Economic Forum, McKinsey, Ericsson, Henkel, Schneider Electric, Flex, Johnson & Johnson, Protolabs, Foxconn, Innolux, Western Digital

The Global Lighthouse Network is a community of production sites and other facilities that are world leaders in the adoption and integration of the cutting-edge technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Lighthouses apply 4IR technologies such as artificial intelligence, 3D-printing and big data analytics to maximize efficiency and competitiveness at scale, transform business models and drive economic growth, while augmenting the workforce, protecting the environment and contributing to a learning journey for all-sized manufacturers across all geographies and industries.

Read more at World Economic Forum News Releases

Pharma Sets a Foundation for Greener API Manufacturing

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Author: Cynthia A. Challener

Topics: sustainability, continuous-flow manufacturing

Vertical: Pharmaceutical

Organizations: Boehringer Ingelheim, W R Grace and Company, Double Rainbow Biosciences

To contribute to the reduction of CO2 and GHG emissions, all drug developers and manufacturers need to seriously consider measures to improve sustainability throughout each phase of their industrial processes, according to Weng. “The pharmaceutical industry is due for a major overhaul in all aspects of its unit operations. Essentially, the pharmaceutical industry should be evaluating sustainable alternatives for all current exercises that rely on fossil fuel inputs,” he sates.

The best time to consider optimal, sustainable production solutions is during the design of the synthetic route to an intermediate/API, notes Martin, because once these processes are validated, it is very challenging to introduce any changes, even if they offer significant improvements in productivity and sustainability.

Read more at Pharmaceutical Technology

Parts cleaning: the manufacturing maintenance saving you’ve never heard of

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Author: Tim Brown

Topics: recycling, sustainability, equipment cleaning

Organizations: Knorr-Bremse, Safety-Kleen

“Our new process, developed with the new Automatic Aqueous cleaning machine solution supplied by Safetykleen, reduced the cleaning cycle from 30 minutes down to 7 minutes!,” said a spokesperson at Knorr-Bremse “Not only was the cleaning time reduced but the cleaning is now more efficient and has significantly less environmental impact.”

The use of a parts washer can dramatically decrease the personnel time required for the cleaning component of maintenance and allows maintenance workers to focus on the key tasks of disassembly, reassembly and testing. According to feedback from users, an automatic parts washing machine can complete two days’ worth of manual cleaning in around 3 hours and reduce maintenance personnel requirements by 23%.

Read more at The Manufacturer

Can a Green-Economy Boom Town Be Built to Last?

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Author: Noam Scheiber

Topics: Sustainability

Vertical: Automotive

Organizations: Rivian

The epicenter of that boom is an electric-vehicle maker named Rivian, which brought in Mr. Mosier’s company and others in the Normal, Ill., area to work on the city’s costliest construction project in decades: a massive auto plant.

As it prepares to deliver its first electric pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles this year, Rivian has spent around $1.5 billion renovating and expanding a factory once owned by Mitsubishi. On a typical day the 3.3-million-square-foot plant hosts several hundred construction workers alongside more than 2,500 workers employed by the company, which expects to eventually double its local head count.

Read more at New York Times (Paid)

Before the Flood: How Technology Is Helping Build Water Resilience Around the Globe

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Author: Mark De Wolf

Topics: IIoT, sustainability

Organizations: Autodesk, Veolia

At Veolia Water Technologies—a division of global water, waste, and energy management giant Veolia—the company’s developers are working on new ways to prepare cities for the inevitable. They’re applying digital and IoT technologies and predictive analytics to build water-resilience management techniques such as flood modeling, sustainable drainage design, clean water distribution, and resource optimization.

Read more at Redshift by Autodesk

The Big Semiconductor Water Problem

Circular Car Factories

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Author: Austin Weber

Topics: circular economy, sustainability, recycling

Vertical: Automotive

Organizations: Renault, Volvo, World Economic Forum

The next big shift will be an environmentally friendly movement dubbed the “circular auto factory.” According to some experts, the circular cars initiative will reshape the auto industry during the next two decades, as OEMs and suppliers attempt to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across the entire vehicle life cycle.

The term “circular car” refers to a theoretical vehicle that has efficiently maximized its use of aluminum, carbon-fiber composites, glass, fabric, rubber, steel, thermoplastics and other materials. Ideally, it would produce zero material waste and zero pollution during manufacture, utilization and disposal.

One of the key elements of a circular car factory is a closed-loop recycling program where disassembly lines are housed in the same facility as traditional final assembly lines. All vehicle components and materials are remanufactured, reused and recycled at the end of life.

Read more at Assembly

Five companies make a quarter of world’s single use plastics

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Author: Camilla Hodgson

Topics: sustainability

Vertical: Chemical, Plastics and Rubber

Organizations: ExxonMobil, Dow, Sinopec, Indorama, Saudi Aramco

The top 5 companies created roughly 26 million metric tones of plastic waste fueled by demand of the United States and China.

Read more at Financial Times (Paid)

Circular Economy 3D Printing: Opportunities to Improve Sustainability in AM

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Author: Hayley Everett

Topics: additive manufacturing, 3D printing, sustainability

Vertical: Machinery, Automotive

Organizations: Ford, Renault, Reflow, Recreus, HP, Materiom

Within the 3D printing sector alone, there are various initiatives currently underway to develop closed-loop manufacturing processes that reuse and repurpose waste materials. Within the automotive sector, Groupe Renault is creating a facility entirely dedicated to sustainable automotive production through recycling and retrofitting vehicles using 3D printing, while Ford and HP have teamed up to recycle 3D printing waste into end-use automotive parts.

One notable project that is addressing circular economy 3D printing is BARBARA (Biopolymers with Advanced functionalities foR Building and Automotive parts processed through Additive Manufacturing), a Horizon 2020 project that brought together 11 partners from across Europe to produce bio-based materials from food waste suitable for 3D printing prototypes in the automotive and construction sectors.

Read more at 3D Printing Industry

How Honeywell's CEO is turning the legacy manufacturer into a SaaS player

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Author: Joe Williams

Topics: energy consumption, sustainability

Organizations: Honeywell, Microsoft, SAP

Cumulatively, it marked a significant step forward in Adamczyk’s vision to turn Honeywell from a legacy industrial manufacturer into a top software provider for sectors like real estate, life sciences and aviation.

“The one common fiber across all our businesses is we are a controls company,” he told Protocol at an event on Tuesday. “When you’re a controls company, you’re connected to everything, you’re connected to all the systems in that building, in that aircraft. We use that data to drive controls, but we could use that data to drive energy savings, to drive efficiency.”

Read more at Protocol

How to optimize cleaning in place (CIP) duration?

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Topics: sustainability, equipment cleaning, continuous-flow manufacturing

Organizations: InUse

Cleaning systems regularly disinfect the entire production lines. They consist of stainless steel tanks, storage tanks, pumps, valves and piping and integrate connections with the production equipment. In a medium-sized factory, the cleaning stations wash up to 250 pieces of equipment per day to avoid contamination from one batch to another (by bacteria or micro-organisms).

When the equipment is being cleaned, disinfected or sterilised, it is not in a position to produce. CIP thus has a direct impact on the uptime rate of production lines. Furthermore, CIPs require large volumes of water, the scarcity of which is becoming increasingly critical looking at the needs of a factory estimated at several tens of thousands of cubic meters per year. Optimising CIPs is therefore an essential lever for any manufacturer who aims to increase the availability of production lines while significantly reducing its water consumption, in other words to achieve eco-efficiency.

Read more at InUse Blog