Efficient and cost-effective processes are crucial to creating a sustainable manufacturing industry. By Dr Chen Wei Long, director, Sustainable Manufacturing Centre, SIMTech
Sustainable Manufacturing is deemed as the new-generation paradigm shift in the manufacturing industry’s effort to reduce environmental burdens, gain cost competitiveness and demonstrate responsible corporate citizenship.
Launched in 2009, the Sustainable Manufacturing Centre (SMC) is spearheaded by A*STAR’s Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech). It aims to bring together relevant government agencies, industry associations, research communities and companies, to develop and implement sustainable manufacturing technologies.
Since its inception, the centre has been actively engaging the manufacturing industry in Singapore to develop and implement technologies for eco-performance improvements in products and manufacturing processes. It has rolled out initiatives to assist companies to measure their eco-performance baseline, improve energy and resource efficiency, develop technologies to manufacture green products and packaging, and recycle or remanufacture used products. Efforts have also been made to create awareness of such initiatives.
SMC’s areas of research and core capabilities include, but are not limited to:
- Carbon Management
- Green Manufacturing
- Energy Efficiency Management
Carbon Management & Green Manufacturing
The centre’s Carbon Management initiative aims to train companies’ in-house experts in carbon footprint quantification and communication. These experts will enable their companies to effectively develop and deploy carbon footprint reduction strategies.
Another one of its initiatives is Green Manufacturing, which assists the manufacturing industry to reduce carbon emission by adopting environmental friendly and material efficient technologies.
A partnership with LHT saw the development of a pallet and crate design system that integrates product design and product life cycle analysis. The system is user-friendly and non-experts can also use it to carry out pallets and crate design in compliance with the relevant environmental standards. The system also helps to promote green logistics by increasing product re-use rate and recycling end-of-life products.
Another example of green manufacturing was working with OE Manufacturing to develop an environmentally-friendly thermal spray coating process as a hard chrome alternative on hydraulic cylinder components. Through this collaboration, the company established a new plasma spray process production capability, and a range of products.
Energy Efficiency Management
Another main initiative is energy efficiency management. To that effect, the centre spearheaded the Energy Efficiency, Monitoring, Analysis Planning Solutions (E2MAPS): a suite of manufacturing energy efficiency solutions developed to help companies achieve higher energy efficiency. This suite of solutions is developed based on a systematic approach, and integrated with features such as business processes road mapping and on-site energy monitoring software.
The process can be broken down into four steps. Firstly, Energy Efficiency Monitoring and Analysis System (E2MAPS) software collects and analyses real-time power consumption data captured from machines via commercial off-the-shelf power meters.
The software then correlates power and energy consumption profile according to various machine stages unique to manufacturing. This analysis of power patterns allows users to understand the energy consumption pattern and identify energy waste. Results from this step will be used to identify area for energy efficiency improvements.
A review of energy data will subsequently be carried out to identify energy efficiency improvement opportunities. Improvement action plans with quantitative reduction goals will be proposed. This road mapping provides a clear grasp of energy efficiency issues or hotspots on the manufacturing shop floor operations.
Finally, relevant domain knowledge experts will be deployed to help companies in their solutions implementation.
The centre’s remanufacturing initiative provides a platform for collaborative research and development in remanufacturing technologies.
The developed remanufacturing-related capabilities will enhance companies’ competitiveness through reduced material waste, better energy efficiency and total cost reduction.
With remanufacturing, a company can potentially save between 60 to 90 percent in terms of energy, materials, water and air pollutant emissions by remanufacturing an end-of-life product, compared to manufacturing a new product. In addition, the process retains more than 80 percent of the product’s original value. This makes remanufacturing a green and high value-add industry with enormous growth potential.
Responsibility & Efficiency
Environmental impact and corporate social responsibility are the forefront concerns today, and sustainable manufacturing initiatives in all shapes and forms will continue to play an increasingly important role in establishing a way forward for the future of the industry.
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