Monday, June 24, 2024

Loughborough University to help make manufacturing more eco-friendly

Loughborough University’s role in a national partnership will develop tools and technologies to help manufacturers across the UK become more efficient and eco-friendly.

The University has been announced as a partner in a new research hub focused on creating a sustainable circular manufacturing ecosystem nationwide.

The hub, which will be named the EPSRC Manufacturing Research Hub in Robotics, Automation & Smart Machine Enabled Sustainable Circular Manufacturing & Materials (RESCu-M2), will be led by the University of Birmingham as part of UK Research and Innovation’s ‘Manufacturing research hubs for a sustainable future’ programme.

The aim of the hub is to transform the sustainable use of critical materials, whilst improving the productivity of ‘Re-X’ manufacturing processes – which include reusing, repurposing, repairing, remanufacturing, and recycling.

These processes are currently much more labour-intensive than traditional manufacturing and businesses could save up to £23bn per year by making improvements at little or no cost.

Professor Shahin Rahimifard from the University’s Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering, believes the impact of the hub can be wide-reaching: “It’s vitally important for all manufacturing businesses to embrace sustainable and circular innovative technologies being investigated by the hub.

“These will aid global societies to tackle many challenges in “new norms” caused by the rapidly evolving and growing climate crisis.

“Diminishing material reserves, the rapid growing industrial waste, increasing diversity of environmental regulations alongside the socio-political concerns regarding undisrupted access to critical raw materials have formed a perfect storm which leaves us with little choice but to take this path.

“Introducing a widespread move to a circular economy will take advantage of the latest advancements in intelligent automation to improve productivity and reduce costs whilst seeing material resources retained and reused – rather than being lost to landfill or converted to energy.

“It’s fantastic that Loughborough University is a part of this wider project. The Centre for Sustainable Manufacturing and Recycling Technologies (SMART) has been at the forefront of the circular manufacturing approach for the past two decades and our latest project, ReMed, which is investigating the circular use of medical devices has been adopted as one of the flagship themes of the new hub.”

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