THrough life Energy and Resource Modelling (THERM)

Lead Research Organisation: Cranfield University
Department Name: Sch of Applied Sciences


We will develop a modelling tool that will assist the collaborators and other manufacturers in: 1. Understanding our current manufacturing system and its level of sustainability performance,2. Modelling potential tactics and technologies to improve (from a database of tactics), 3. Selecting appropriate tactics, & 4. Implementing tactics & technologies and monitoring progress.We will use the modelling tool to support improvement in our facilities and in collaborators, then assess the utility of the tools, improve them and make them available to other manufacturers. We will explain the results and learning to the wider manufacturing community. The tool must work at a number of levels: e.g. process, facility, local context, product, supply chain, offering & business model. The tool will be capable of modelling existing, known tactics (such as using waste energy from one process for another process) as well as potential future tactics (e.g. cradle-to-cradle, industrial ecology). The tool will seek to integrate existing tools where possible (such as manufacturing simulation and building energy modelling), though it is clear that such tools do not currently support an integrated model of material, energy, waste, production flow and building/location for an industrial system. For example, energy is often available as an output, but its media (e.g. steam vs motion vs electricity) and its timing and its location (e.g. at start of shift in area 'X') are critical to the ability to use that energy elsewhere. There are no modelling tools that currently support such functionality. Our exploitation partner is a vendor of current energy modelling tools for buildings with a vital interest in expanding their capabilities.


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Smith L (2012) Steps towards sustainable manufacturing through modelling material, energy and waste flows in International Journal of Production Economics

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Despeisse M (2013) Sustainable manufacturing tactics and cross-functional factory modelling in Journal of Cleaner Production

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Despeisse M (2012) Industrial ecology at factory level: a prototype methodology in Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part B: Journal of Engineering Manufacture

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Despeisse M (2012) Industrial ecology at factory level - a conceptual model in Journal of Cleaner Production

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Despeisse M (2011) The emergence of sustainable manufacturing practices in Production Planning & Control

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Baines T (2012) Examining green production and its role within the competitive strategy of manufacturers in Journal of Industrial Engineering and Management

Description The THERM (THrough-life Energy and Resource Modelling) project sought to help move the manufacturing industry towards a more resource-efficient, low-carbon future by highlighting the sustainability and economic benefits of an integrated modelling process, providing insights and numbers on energy flows to achieve potentially large energy and carbon reductions. THERM's focus was to integrate 'Sustainable Building Design' tools and 'Sustainable Manufacturing Process' tools to achieve an 'Integrated Sustainable Manufacturing' system. It was concerned with the creation of a new, innovative modelling tool for the manufacturing industry that simulated the manufacturing process as an integrated system of energy, material and waste flows to help identify more resource efficient and sustainable opportunities. Specifically, the project aimed to develop a modelling tool to assist manufacturers in: (1) Understanding our current manufacturing system and its level of sustainability performance; (2) Modelling potential tactics and technologies to improve (formed from a database of sustainable manufacturing practices); (3) Selecting appropriate tactics; (4) Implementing tactics and technologies and monitoring progress.

The project has achieved its objectives and an innovative prototype tool has been produced through a range of innovations in a new field linking buildings and manufacturing energy and resource use. These include real process data input, analysis and tests, and a system of implementing interventions based on an extensive library of tactics and case studies. The project has used the modelling tool on a number of real facilities of the industrial partners and has been developed and refined through iteration of tool development and application. It was shown that an effective way of integrating building and manufacturing energy/resource efficiency is operation management based on monitoring and data collection, software-based analysis, and interventions enabled by a dynamic library of tactics interventions and case studies. This integrated approach as implemented in the tools developed offers the potential of major reduction of energy and resource use. The tools developed and insights gained with the project have been brought to the attention of wider user community through publications and major events, e.g. the EcoBuild.
Exploitation Route IES Ltd's VE software will be developed and released into the marketplace.

The improvement methodology (published in the conference and journal papers) has potential for dissemination to manufacturing companies

Case studies published have potential to help guide other manufacturers develop their processes. The project partner IES Ltd has developed a THERM beta version of its VE software. This is being developed into a commercial tool. It has already received its first recognition: commended in the Rushlight Awards in early 2013.

The database of sustainable manufacturing practices is being disseminated through a web link on the EPSRC CIM in Industrial Sustainability pages.
Sectors Education,Energy,Environment

Description Reduction in energy usage in Airbus and Toyota factories.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Economic

Description EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing (CIM) in Industrial Sustainability
Amount £5,233,278 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/I033351/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2011 
End 06/2016
Title THERM 
Description THERM (THrough-life Energy and Resource Modelling) is a software tool for sustainable manufacturing, which integrates modelling of factory processes within their environment, assesses the materials, energy and waste of the processes and uses data analysis tools to understand the opportunities that exist for reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions, integrated with the factory building. Initially being released as an IES consulting service, THERM will in due course be available as part of the IES software suite. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact Not known