Small is Beautiful

Lead Research Organisation: Cranfield University
Department Name: School of Water, Energy and Environment

Abstract

The aim of the this project is to introduce the concept of "small is beautiful" into a conservative relatively low technology manufacturing sector where the "economies of scale" argument has been used for the last decade to build ever more so-called efficient process lines. This will be a major challenge. The new philosophy, "small is beautiful", starts by encouraging the use of high quality feedstock, only melting what is required and only when it is required. Recycling of internal scrap is not necessarily acceptable but an aim for higher yields is. Applying counter gravity casting methods to improve yield and give enhanced quality is encouraged as is the recovery low grade heat from solidification.
The project will achieve this by the development of a software tool incorporating a new philosophy/methodology and metric for the handling of materials and energy throughout the process in foundries using computer numerical process simulation to support the decision making. The project would also look at the full energy chain from charge materials through to waste heat and energy in the process and identify the opportunities for scavenging waste heat and the costs associated with the whole process. This will therefore enable cost/benefit analysis to be undertaken so that companies will be able to make informed decisions about design, material and process at a very early stage.

Planned Impact

The DECC report on UK energy published in July 2013 showed the total UK energy usage in 2012 as being 206 million tonnes oil equivalent (mtoe) or 8.7 ExaJ (8.7 x 1018 J) of which about 17% was used by industry. An estimate has been made that approximately 4% (about 60,000 TJ) of this is used by the foundry industry. By adopting the new philosophy proposed in this research for foundry manufacturing processes then this could be more than halved.
In order to get industrial engagement and develop potential pathways into manufacturing we are initially working with a core of software companies who already supply materials selection software and process modelling solutions into the foundry industry. The companies will be involved in meetings to help define the research direction and help with the implementation of the software code. Professor Jolly already works closely with the Cast metals Federation (CMF) and the Institute of Cast Metals Engineers (ICME) sitting on both technical and education committees. By involving both these organisations in understanding the new philosophy the concepts can be introduced into the industry's training courses which are delivered by these organisations.

Publications

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Salonitis K (2016) The Challenges for Energy Efficient Casting Processes in Procedia CIRP

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Pagone E (2018) Energy and material efficiency metrics in foundries in Procedia Manufacturing

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Jolly M (2017) Light Metals 2017

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Gonçalves M (2018) Light Metals 2018

 
Description A thorough analysis of the current practices in the foundries in the UK was undertaken. In total, 48 foundries (across a number of casting processes and cast alloys) were contacted over 6 months and 8 foundries (17% response rate) provided information on the energy consumption profile, materials handling and waste streams. The key findings (KF) from this survey can be summarized into: foundries do not monitor the energy consumption in detail, but rather focus in energy bills (KF1), foundries do not know how to measure the energy consumption of their installed systems (KF2), subsequently energy consumption and emissions are not considered to be among the key decision making criteria (KF3), and finally there are indications of major differences on practices between the foundries (KF4), and is worth identifying any differences with major foundries from overseas. A workshop with 25 representatives (18 from industry) from 14 organisations of which there were 8 foundries, 2 suppliers and a consultant as well as the Cast Metals Federation, Cranfield and another University confirmed the initial findings and highlighted the need for an energy auditing framework (KF5) and a tool for the fast analysis of the measurements (KF6).
Exploitation Route We have started the second phase of this research project Small is Beautiful 2. This is continuing and expanding the research.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

 
Description A workshop was organized on 2nd December 2015, hosted by the Cast Metals Federation (CMF), with the title "Road-mapping towards a sustainable lower energy foundry" with 25 representatives (18 from industry) from 14 organisations of which there were 8 foundries, 2 suppliers and a consultant as well as the CMF, Cranfield University and another university. During the workshop the findings were presented and discussed, and the attendees collaborated in discussing sustainability, barriers, inhibitors and strategies towards sustainable foundries. The findings of the workshop were published in a trade magazine in February 2016. The workshop confirmed the initial findings and highlighted the need for an energy auditing framework and a tool for the fast analysis of the measurements. The workshop raised the awareness on the importance of energy efficiency for the foundries and highlighted the cost savings that this can potentially have. In March 2016 an agreement with 4 international foundries was set up for benchmarking their practices. A team of 7 MSc students was formed that visited the foundries, contacted more than 100 companies and industry experts (including other foundries, suppliers, raw material suppliers, etc.). A computer program is under development and is designed to support a systematic analysis of the full energy and material chain of casting processes from charge materials through to waste and it will be linked to product design software. This tool has been presented in technical meetings since June 2016 to almost 10 international foundries and commercial product design software representatives generating significant interest. We have started the second phase of this research project Small is Beautiful 2. This is continuing and expanding the research thus anything reported in SIB2 is relevant to this initial feasibility first phase.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport
 
Description Energy Resilient Manufacturing 2: Small is Beautiful Phase 2 (SIB2)
Amount £755,750 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/P012272/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2017 
End 07/2020
 
Description 3 Presentations at Casting Technology New Zealand 2017 Annual Conference and AGM, Dunedin New Zealand 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Professor Mark Jolly
Professor of Sustainable Manufacturing
Cranfield University

Mark is Professor of Sustainable Manufacturing and head of the Sustainable Manufacturing Systems Centre at Cranfield University. He has 35 years' experience in manufacturing. He has a degree in metallurgy from Sheffield University and PhD from Cambridge. Mark spent 13 years working in industry in automotive and tier 2 suppliers into manufacturing both in the UK and abroad before moving back into academia in 1995. In 2012 he took up his current position at Cranfield after 17 years at the University of Birmingham. Mark's main areas of current research are resource efficient manufacturing, process modelling and novel casting processes. Resource efficient manufacturing targets traditional processes and aims at reducing the materials usage and energy with the ultimate aim of lowering carbon and water footprints of final components. He has recently won over 5 years of funding from EPSRC for his concept of "Small is Beautiful" which is investigating Design for Energy Resilient Manufacturing. He has worked with many large names across a number of sectors including Rolls-Royce, Depuy-Synthes (Johnson & Johnson), GKN and Coca-Cola - but he has also championed working with many small companies especially SMEs who supply to large companies.
Mark has managed over £8 M of research projects since being in academia. He has over 330 lectures, publications, technical reports and articles including over 60 invited lectures and seminars. He has edited 8 books and has 3 patents. He has taught at Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels.
Mark is a Chartered Engineer, a Chartered Environmentalist, a Fellow of the Institute of Materials (IOM3), Minerals and Mining, a Fellow of the Institute of Cast Metals Engineers (ICME) and a Member of TMS (TMS) and the American Foundry Society. Mark has sat on the EPSRC Peer Review College since 2003. Mark is currently chair of the Materials Science and Technology Division of IOM3, vice-Chair of the Sustainable Development Group of IOM3 and Chair of the Solidification Committee of TMS. He was the 2008 recipient of the Oliver Stubbs Gold Medal (ICME) and the University of Birmingham's 2010 Josiah Mason award for Business Achievement.

"Sustainable Manufacturing in Foundries"
The UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has funded two research programmes entitled title Small is Beautiful 1 and 2 under the framework of Energy Resilient Manufacturing. The aim of the feasibility phase of Small is Beautiful was the development of a new philosophy/methodology and a software tool incorporating metrics for the handling of materials and energy throughout the process in foundries using computer numerical process simulation to support the decision making. For the next phase of Small is Beautiful we have the following objectives:
• To develop a plant wide measurement framework based on a set of specific metrics for energy and material usage in foundries
• To develop through-process integrated engineering design and operational models with those metrics at their core for enabling the concurrent product and process design of cast parts
• To implement those models into a software toolkit
• To validate the methodology, models and toolkit through a demonstrator using the CRIMSON process in Cranfield
• To conduct a series of industrial engagement activities to validate the SiB methodology and toolkit with collaborators and disseminate the findings to industrial end-user audiences
This paper present a study the energy efficiency of a number of UK foundries. In the context of this research 80 foundries were studied, 60 were contacted and 10 were visited. General energy data were collected using structured questionnaires, interviewing energy managers and process operators. A number of foundries are operating to a good standard, by employing energy managers and regularly auditing; they are in control of their process and working rigorously to improve their efficiency. Simultaneously though, smaller foundries have not adjusted to the new market demands and are not operating in the most energy efficient manner. Important barriers to energy efficiency in these foundries include lack of knowledge on auditing methods, poor knowledge in managing energy consumption, the inefficiency of individual process steps, production disruptions, aging equipment, personnel behaviour, inadequate maintenance and lack of in-vestment, automation and research.

"Disruptive Novel Technology"
Instead of using the traditional batch casting process, the CRIMSON (Constrained Rapid Induction Melting Single Shot Up-Casting)1 method employs a high-powered furnace to melt just enough metal to fill a single mould in a closed crucible. The crucible is transferred to a station for computer-controlled counter gravity filling of the mould for optimum filling and solidification. The CRIMSON method therefore holds the liquid aluminium for a minimum of time drastically reducing the energy losses attributed to holding the metal at temperature. With the rapid melting times achieved, of the order of minutes, there isn't a long time at temperature for hydrogen to be absorbed or for thick layers of oxide to form. The metal is never allowed to fall under gravity and therefore any oxide formed is not entrained within the liquid. Thus higher quality castings are produced leading to a reduction in scrap rate and reduced overall energy losses.
This paper will present will present some key features of the CRIMSON process and discuss how it fits in with sustainable manufacturing and energy saving for future sustainable foundries.

"Sustainable Factories of the Future"
Materials conversion processes from extraction through to the final product in the consumer's hands are the basis for manufacturing industries. Essentially these make up manufacturing systems with nested and linked loops of materials chains. Often, waste materials from one process (e.g. Pt group metals, Te, Se and Co from the primary production of Cu) become the primary materials in other chains. This is one aspect of Industrial Symbiosis but it can be difficult to take advantage of this in lower value streams such as low-grade heat and waste products for a variety of reasons such as geographical proximity or material contamination levels.
Since the industrial revolution, materials conversion processes have tended to increase in size to take advantage of what has been called "economies of scale". The philosophy being the bigger the "process" the more cost effective and thus the cheaper the product is to make. However, most economists have worked in a linear form of production without consideration for the non-market costs of using the planets resources or of the effect of waste products on society and natural eco systems, or the limitations that resource availability sets on economies. Most models have focussed solely on product cost. With the move towards a more sustainable systems approach to materials and the circular economy business model aimed at sustainable processes the argument for "economies of scale" is not so clear and the potential of an approach along the lines of "small is beautiful" and localised production becomes more attractive (i.e. economies of scope).
All sectors in manufacturing are investigating the possibilities of sustainable closed loop manufacturing with a circular economy, and revisiting the way it views its manufacturing strategy and footprint decisions. Historic off-shoring decisions were driven primarily by a desire to reduce manufacturing costs. There are three key drivers to re-shoring and localisation of manufacturing: first; where taking a total landed cost perspective, costs are comparable and supply chain risk is reduced, second; by increasing responsiveness for more unpredictable demand, particularly for customised products, third; the development of a localised supply chain to support the development and production of innovative new products. The recent review of German manufacturing strategy, Industrie 4.0, calls for the ICT enablers' convergence of business and technological processes to herald the next generation of manufacturing. This calls for industry and academia to work in close collaboration to identify the next generation of business models that can make this a reality.
Recent developments and sustainable thinking encouraged by increasing material/energy costs and security of supply are forcing companies to re-think their strategies for materials conversions. Disruptive technologies such as Metal Injection Moulding (MIM), Additive (Layer) Manufacturing (AM/ALM) and Constrained Rapid Induction Melting Single Shot Net Shape Up-Casting (CRIMSON) are maturing rapidly and becoming realistic alternative processes that challenge the larger scale processes by offering materials and design flexibility unachievable within large-scale processes.
The pharmaceuticals industry is facing a patent cliff and challenges from generic medicines to the tune of $150 B p.a. The methods being used to address this situation include reduction of inventory, improving right-first-time (from 3s to 5s) and reducing development costs. Pharma companies are increasingly being driven down the route of personalised medicines and thus have a requirement for highly flexible single patient batch sizes which cannot be retro fitted to existing plants. In the consumer goods manufacturing sector companies such as Amazon and Apple are using information on customers' spending patterns to "know what you want before you buy it". We are living in a time where more products are personalised in terms of features and functions such that the burden of personalised configurability has to be just-in-time. Some examples below will be presented.
Ownership of "stuff" is now not so aspirational for a younger generation in the developed world for those living in cities. This is changing business models with examples like AirBnB, Uber, Zip Car, River Simple and Buzzbikes showing how the old methods are impacted by the internet and sustainable thinking.
This paper will present a vision of massive changes to come for our traditional factories prompted by the sustainability agenda supported by the internet.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.castingtechnologynz.org/files/CTNZ_Newsletter_Sept_2017.pdf
 
Description A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue - TECHNICAL WORKING GROUP FOR THE EMAS SECTORAL REFERENCE DOCUMENT ON BEST ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT PRACTICES FOR THE FABRICATED METAL PRODUCTS MANUFACTURING SECTOR 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This EMAS Working party creates the standards by which companies are audited and achieve Eco accreditation during the Manufacture of Metallic Products.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://susproc.jrc.ec.europa.eu/activities/emas/fab_metal_prod.html
 
Description EU funded project Cradle-to-grave approach to light alloys CRAL: 27th June 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Brembo, coordinator of CRAL project , together with its partner CANNON, is pleased to invite you to the workshop "Cradle-to-grave approach to light alloys". The workshop is organized in the frame of the EU funded LIFE CRAL project.
Started in July 2016, CRAL project aims to implement a Semi-Solid Metal (SSM) pilot line breakthrough, capable of producing high-quality and light-weight automotive cast components from both recycled low-purity aluminium alloys and new ECO-magnesium alloys in a safe and clean manner.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://allevents.in/provincia%20di%20bergamo/workshop-cradle-to-grave-approach-to-light-alloys/1000...
 
Description GCSM 2019 conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Scientific conference presentation of the hybrid - optimisation / FEA tool for the design of the casting system. Raised the interest with the attendees and initiated discussions for collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://gcsm.eu/
 
Description Seminar at University of British Columbia, Vancouver Canada 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Life Cycle Energy Analysis for the Sustainable Production of Passenger Vehicle Engine Blocks
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Seminar at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact RMIT Melbourne
Abstract for presentation
Primary Manufacturing, Engine Production and on-the-road CO2:
How can the Automotive Industry Best Contribute to Environmental Sustainability?

Prof. M.R. Jolly, Professor of Sustainable Manufacturing
Dr. K. Salonitis, Senior Lecturer in Manufacturing Systems

Legislation in the automotive industry currently focusses on tailpipe CO2 emissions, with no consideration for the CO2 footprint of the materials used in the manufacture of vehicles. This has led OEMs to adopt lower density materials, to contribute to weight reduction and fuel economy, in the expectation that the weight reduction will provide a net CO2 benefit to society.
This paper will present the results of a full assessment of the energy and CO2 impact during the manufacture of diesel and petrol engine cylinder blocks. The research is based on inputs from over 100 world experts from across the automotive supply chain, including raw material mining and smelting companies, alloy recyclers, iron and aluminium foundries, OEM engineers, independent manufacturing specialists, design consultants, heat treaters and impregnators. Despite current perceived wisdom, the use of lower density materials frequently results in net energy and CO2 penalties, when considering the complete life cycle of manufacture and use. For the 1.6 litre cylinder block investigated in this study, more than 200,000 km of on-the-road driving is required to compensate for the up-front energy consumption and CO2 emissions associated with the production of aluminium cylinder blocks. The paper also comments on other environmental impacts from the iron and aluminium manufacturing routes. These results provide new insights for OEM decision-makers, and a new perspective for legislators to define regulations that truly contribute to the environment and to society.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description TECHNICAL WORKING GROUP FOR THE EMAS SECTORAL REFERENCE DOCUMENT ON BEST ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT PRACTICES FOR THE FABRICATED METAL PRODUCTS MANUFACTURING SECTOR 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This EMAS Working party creates the standards by which companies are audited and achieve Eco accreditation during the Manufacture of Metallic Products.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://susproc.jrc.ec.europa.eu/activities/emas/fab_metal_prod.html
 
Description TMS 2019 Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation of projects result on casting system design to relevant experts. Q&A discussions increased interest from the scientific audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Workshop for Road-Mapping Towards a Sustainable Lower Energy Foundry 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Road-Mapping towards a Sustainable Lower Energy Foundry workshop took place on the 2nd of December 2015 at Cast Metals Federation (CMF). Foundries and Academic experts from across the UK were invited by CMF and Cranfield University to discuss the challenges and benefits of achieving sustainable lower energy foundries. This research is based on "Energy Resilient Manufacturing (analysis)" through the EPSRC funded "Small is Beautiful" project. The second workshop will be held in July 2016.
To move forward in the short term foundries suggest, to increase awareness of impact across life cycle, introduce life cycle assessment (LCA) tools, use energy audit to assess 'as is' and create future targets for reductions, train people, practice simulation for assessing scenarios, Invest in technology, define a clear business plan and agenda from the top against a time plan.
Medium term they recommend to improve evidential design capability, increase sharing and collaborations, breaking down barriers / increase opportunities to collaboration, develop an inter group / network for sharing and research, stop relying on suppliers to get new information and develop own capability, develop a culture of sharing / innovation / co-production, KPIs, benchmarking between companies and sharing and working in partnership with universities.
In the long term, foundries advice to introduce new technology for rapid prototyping, more tailored, flexible, complete solutions, value added and integrating design. Produce a solution not just manufacturing what the customer asks for. Augmented reality, disruptive technologies, innovate UK funding for projects, understand funding available for innovative projects, changing government legislation, machinery investment, overseas partnership and pressure on companies compliance with H&S and environmental issues.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015