Category Archives: resilience

Re-distributed Manufacturing and the Resilient, Sustainable City (RDM|RSC) Network – Launch Event

Highly adaptable manufacturing processes capable of operating at small scales offer the possibility of a new understanding of where and how design, manufacture and services may be carried out to achieve the most appropriate mix of capability and employment but also to minimise environmental costs and to ensure resilience of provision. The Universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter and the West of England and Cardiff University are leading a research network, funded by the EPSRC and ESRC, to study the potential impact of such re-distributed manufacturing (RDM) at the scale of the city and its hinterland, using Bristol as an example in its European Green Capital year, and concentrating on the issues of resilience and sustainability.

This network, the Re-distributed Manufacturing and the Resilient, Sustainable City (RDM|RSC) network, aims to study the impact of RDM from a number of disciplinary perspectives, bringing together experts in manufacturing, design, logistics, operations management, infrastructure, engineering systems, economics, geographical sciences, mathematical modelling and beyond. The network will also explore research mechanisms by which interdisciplinary teams may come together to address societal grand challenges and develop research agendas for their solution.

The network is holding its launch event in Bristol on 22 April. This event will introduce the network, initiate discussion on the key issues for the research agenda and start building a community of those with shared interests.

The Provisional Programme is as follows (full details will be circulated before the event):

10:30-11:00   Arrival and Registration
11:00-11:15   Introduction to the Re-distributed Manufacturing (RDM) network programme and to the RDM|RSC network
11:15-12:30   Perspectives on RDM and on the challenges of achieving resilient, sustainable cities
12:30-13:30   Lunch and networking
13:30-16:00   Presentations and workshop discussions on key issues and on approaches to research collaboration
16:00-16:30   Closing remarks

Numbers are limited so please register attendance here. For further information please contact the network administrator Sophie Causon-Wood.

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Energy Resilient Manufacturing

The deadline for the submission of Expressions of Interest to the EPSRC’s “Energy Resilient Manufacturing” call was today. Here at Bit by Bit we realised that we should submit something given the overlap between the call and additive manufacturing, and the relatively low effort involved in submitting a proposal.

As the call described:

Research ideas should have the potential to revolutionise the usage and management of energy in the manufacturing industry, significantly reducing the need for energy as an input to the manufacturing process and/or increasing the resilience of manufacturing to uncertainties in the energy supply.

Developing some initial ideas led to five project ideas, three of which spoke directly to 3D printing. We expanded upon these three ideas as far as possible within the very short word limit of the Expression of Interest form. Here are the three proposals we developed, each of which provides (1) a summary of the idea, and (2) an explanation of how the idea fits the scope of the call.

Proposal 1

Idea: 3D printing allows the on-demand manufacture of customised products. How does its potential for more localised production, lower design complexity and replacement parts help decouple economic growth from energy consumption?

Fit to call scope: The adoption of 3D printing by UK industry could transform supply chains and dramatically reduce energy consumption across the manufacturing network. More localised production and lower design complexity will create shorter supply chains, with the reduced number of production and transportation stages leading to step-changes in energy consumption.

Proposal 2

Idea: How does the distributed and localised nature of 3D printing improve UK manufacturing’s resilience to energy disruptions? This project will focus on the manufacturing flexibility offered by 3D printing.

Fit to call scope: Individual, smaller-scale 3D printing sites have lower energy requirements than conventional manufacturing. A distributed network of 3D printing sites could allow production to be better matched to available energy supply, thereby improving the resilience of UK manufacturing to disruptions in energy supply.

Proposal 3

Idea: 3D printing allows replacement components to be produced at lower cost, enabling repairs that were previously economically unattractive. Remanufacturing and service-based business models with lower energy requirements may be realised.

Fit to call scope: Extending product life through the use of 3D printed replacement components reduces the need for new products to be manufactured, significantly reducing energy consumption in the manufacturing system. The 3D printing of replacement components may enable a ‘design for repair’ ethos and new service-based business models to emerge.

While we think that each of these are worth exploring, we were unfortunately limited to the submission of just one proposal. Of the three it was Proposal 1 that we decided to submit. We now wait to see if we’re accepted to pitch our project idea at one of the events later this month.

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