Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering


Today, even low volume manufacturing relies heavily on automation. The use of robotics in manufacturing assembly and testing environments to perform highly accurate, dangerous or rapid assembly functions is widespread. Robotics and operator controlled automation is utilised to different levels in the engine assembly process at both the low volume Perkins Engines Stafford facility that builds 4k generator engines per year, and the JLR Engine Manufacturing Centre Wolverhampton that will soon have capacity for 800k vehicle engines per year. A focus on disassembly for remanufacture is required in order to optimise the cradle-to-grave value stream as both industry and the consumer become more acute to the impacts of industry on sustainability, the environment and earth's finite resources. One piece flow mass manufacturing lines can be designed to best fit the product being assembled. In re-manufacturing the disassembly process must be flexible enough to process a range of products at different stages of life, in a way that is cost effective. Some products will require only minor servicing, whist others will require complete strip and rebuild. This flexibility drives the need for humans to co-exist in an environment with robotics and the existence of force feedback control, vision systems, zone monitoring, RFID and networked birth history makes this concept possible. As demonstrated by the CAT Reman facility Shrewsbury, remanufacturing in the UK is currently labour intensive with highly variable work content leading to variability in profit margins. In order for businesses to invest in robotics for remanufacturing, human safety with collaborative robots needs more exposure, and the concept of robotic disassembly for remanufacturing needs to be packaged in a way that provides a flexible solution, with stable, quantifiable benefits to both the business and the consumer.


10 25 50
publication icon
Kerin M (2020) Smart remanufacturing: a review and research framework in Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management

publication icon
Kerin M (2019) A review of emerging industry 4.0 technologies in remanufacturing in Journal of Cleaner Production

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509590/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
2035409 Studentship EP/N509590/1 09/10/2017 08/03/2021 Mairi Elaine Kerin
Description Trends and gaps in Industry 4.0 in remanufacturing have been identified that encompasses the product to be remanufactured, the remanufacturing equipment and processes adopted and related organisation issues.
Findings suggest there is a need to explore the connection of cyberphysical systems to the Internet-of-Things to support smart remanufacturing, whilst aligning with evolving information and communication infrastructures and circular economy business models.
A smart remanufacturing framework and agenda for research is in development, along with more focused research on digital twins and exploiting them for remanufacturing planning.
Exploitation Route This project is still in progress so it is too early to say.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

Description Article cited 6 times in other journals as of Feb 2020
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Citation in systematic reviews
Description International Workshop on Autonomous Remanufacturing 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact >50 presentations given related to this subject offering an insight into emerging research and collaboration opportunities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Open Day Lab hosting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact >200 potential students and parents visited the lab over 10-12 open day sessions and school visits. Many questions were asked and general feedback was good. The department recognised this lab visit as being particularly engaging for the visitors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018,2019