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Partnering on Research and Innovation in Sustainable Manufacturing

Sustainable Manufacturing overview

Goal: Strengthen and expand an existing industry-led consortium and develop shared-vision R&D roadmaps to identify prospective next-generation technologies that enable closed-loop, sustainable manufacturing operations and have the potential to increase U.S. manufacturing competitiveness.


Background:  With the race to develop and implement advanced manufacturing capabilities, there is also a drive toward more sustainable manufacturing, which balances profitable production with societal and environmental well-being.  Progress on both fronts will lead to changes in how manufacturing is done. The ultimate goals are closed-loop manufacturing processes that minimize inputs and maximize outputs.

Approach:  The University of Kentucky Institute for Sustainable Manufacturing  and its partners expanded an existing consortium of manufacturers and carried out a roadmapping effort to identify and prioritize major challenges to achieving sustainable advanced production processes across U.S. manufacturing.

The Partnership for Research and Innovation in Sustainable Manufacturing aimed to initiate and develop a comprehensive, integrated research and development approach needed to solve technical challenges at the product, process, and systems levels, taking the full product life-cycle into account.  The process involved both analysis of common needs and critical gaps, as well as workshops to define projects and a way to prioritize and select them and build consensus on solutions. 

Outcome:  The results and recommendations were analyzed to define the most compelling themes – coined the 12 imperatives: 1. Sustainable Manufacturing Education and Workforce Development; 2. Next Generation Life Cycle Assessment and Decision Support Toolset; 3. Corporate Asset Management; 4. Risk, Uncertainty, and Unintended Consequence Analysis for Supply Networks; 5. Product Lifecycle Management Capability for Process Planning; 6. Public-Private Partnership for Sustainable Manufacturing; 7. Lifecycle Cost Models; 8. 6R End-of-Life Management (reduce, reuse, recycle, recover, redesign and remanufacture); 9. Flexible and Scalable Manufacturing Alternatives; 10. Sustainable Manufacturing Metrics; 11. Information - to Knowledge - to Intelligent Sustainable Manufacturing; and 12. Secure Collaboration.

With these Imperatives as input, a Sustainable Manufacturing Roadmap was developed to address three key elements in sustainable manufacturing:  sustainable products, sustainable processes, and sustainable systems.  For each of these elements, the roadmap: 

  1. Assesses the current state, including barriers, deficiencies, state of practice, emerging best practices, and specific needs
  2. Describes an ideal future state
  3. Defines solutions to overcome the barriers and deficiencies and deliver the capabilities needed for the future state
  4. Prioritizes future R&D projects that overcome these barriers and deficiencies

Lead: University of Kentucky Institute for Sustainable Manufacturing

Funded Participants: Gold1 Enterprises, LLC (Dublin, Ohio); Integrated Manufacturing Technology Initiative, Inc. (Oak Ridge, Tenn.); National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Award Number:  70NANB14H042
Federal Funding:  $500,000
Project Duration:  24 months
AMTech Project Manager: Thomas R. Lettieri

More information:

Created June 19, 2018, Updated February 23, 2019