Impact of Digitalisation on Environmental Sustainability in Manufacturing Systems
Licentiatavhandling, 2021

Manufacturing companies are striving to improve productivity and reduce the environmental impacts of their activities. Meanwhile, digitalisation plays an important role in increasing productivity and has a profound impact on the environment of manufacturing systems. It is unclear whether digitalisation affects this impact positively or negatively; this information is crucial if manufacturing companies are to better harness digital technologies in an environmentally friendly manner.

This thesis aims to explore the potential for digitalisation to reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing systems by revealing its extent. With the vision of an environmentally “harm-free” manufacturing system, this thesis intends to provide practitioners with insights into the use of digital technologies to benefit our living environment. This study adopts a qualitative methodology to investigate theoretical and empirical data through literature reviews and case studies.

The results show that the impact of digitalisation on environmental sustainability may be viewed through a multiple-lifecycle perspective, including product and technology lifecycles. Digitalisation applications throughout the product lifecycle contribute positively to environmental sustainability by increasing resource and information efficiency, dematerialisation, virtualisation/monitoring impacts and reduced transport. The negative environmental impact is primarily due to increased resource and energy use, plus emissions and waste from manufacturing and the use and disposal of digital hardware in the technology lifecycle.

The multiple-lifecycle perspective helps practitioners in manufacturing companies to consider the environmental impact of both product and technology lifecycles when adopting digital technologies. The summary of positive impacts provides companies with implementation practices as to where and how to implement digital technologies. They may thus reduce environmental impact, especially in the production stage of a product’s lifecycle and at the 5C architecture connection level.

This study provides a holistic view of the environmental impact of digitalising manufacturing systems and supports practitioners in applying digital technologies in an environmentally “harm-free” manner, thus achieving sustainable manufacturing systems.

environmental impact

digitalisation

Industry 4.0

sustainability

manufacturing

zoom password: 784930
Opponent: Prof. Magnus Wiktorsson, Department of Sustainable Production Development, KTH, Sweden

Författare

Xiaoxia Chen

Chalmers, Industri- och materialvetenskap, Produktionssystem

The Environmental Implications of Digitalization in Manufacturing: A Case Study

Sustainable Production, Life Cycle Engineering and Management,; Vol. EcoDesign and Sustainability I(2021)p. 249-263

Paper i proceeding

Chen, X., Despeisse, M., Johansson, B. Environmental impact assessment in manufacturing industry: A literature review. Presented at the 6th International EurOMA Sustainable Operations and Supply Chains Forum, Gothenburg, Sweden, 18th – 19th March 2019.

Chen X., Gong L., Berce A., Johansson B., Despeisse M. Implications of Virtual Reality on Environmental Sustainability in Manufacturing Industry: A Case Study. Submitted to CIRP CMS 2021.

Enabling REuse, REmanufacturing and REcycling Within INDustrial systems (REWIND)

VINNOVA, 2019-03-01 -- 2022-02-28.

SUstainability, sMart Maintenance och fabriksdesIgn Testbed (SUMMIT)

VINNOVA, 2017-11-01 -- 2021-04-30.

Twinning for Industrial Sustainability (TRUST)

Europeiska kommissionen (EU), 2018-10-01 -- 2021-09-30.

Ämneskategorier

Produktionsteknik, arbetsvetenskap och ergonomi

Annan naturresursteknik

Miljöledning

Drivkrafter

Hållbar utveckling

Styrkeområden

Produktion

Thesis for the degree of licentiate of engineering / Department of Product and Production Development, Chalmers University of Technology: IMS-2021-5

Utgivare

Chalmers tekniska högskola

zoom password: 784930

Online

Opponent: Prof. Magnus Wiktorsson, Department of Sustainable Production Development, KTH, Sweden

Mer information

Senast uppdaterat

2021-05-27