A framework for the resilient use of critical materials in sustainable manufacturing systems

2016-03-24T15:07:20Z (GMT) by Liam Gardner James Colwill
A number of materials have been identified by the EU as being critical to their member's economies and manufacturing industries. A material has been defined by the EU as being critical if it is of “high economic importance combined with a high risk of supply shortage”. This criticality will become increasingly acute as the escalating use of finite resources continues, driven by growing populations and consumer demand. One group of materials that is listed top on the majority of these „critical‟ lists are rare earths, which include the elements neodymium and dysprosium. These are often used in high value, high technology products used in renewable energy, military and aerospace sectors. Whilst most manufactures would be aware of the direct use of rare earth elements in their products, many may not be aware of their indirect use such as in manufacturing equipment and bought-in components, or further down the value chain in inter-reliant products or consumables. This paper presents a framework for the resilient use of critical materials in sustainable manufacturing systems. The first phase of this three phase framework identifies where, in the value chain of this business, critical material are used. Once identified, the second phase assesses the level of risk to the business based upon the likelihood, frequency and severity of a supply disruption occurring for the critical material identified. The third phase supports the identification and development of suitable mitigation strategies to reduce this risk, including the consideration of factors specific to the business as well as more general ones associated with the type of rare earth and its application. The paper concludes with a case study, based on simulated data, that demonstrates the application of phase one of this framework in a typical manufacturing operation.