How to assess sustainability in automated manufacturing

Teunis Johannes Dijkman, Jan-Markus Rödger, Niki Bey

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    The aim of this paper is to describe how sustainability in automation can be assessed. The assessment method is illustrated using a case study of a robot. Three aspects of sustainability assessment in automation are identified. Firstly, we consider automation as part of a larger system that fulfills the market demand for a given functionality. Secondly, three aspects of sustainability have to be assessed: environment, economy, and society. Thirdly, automation is part of a system with many levels, with different actors on each level, resulting in meeting the market demand. In this system, (sustainability) specifications move top-down, which helps avoiding sub-optimization and problem shifting. From these three aspects, sustainable automation is defined as automation that contributes to products that fulfill a market demand in a more sustainable way. The case study presents the carbon footprints of a robot, a production cell, a production line and the final product. The case study results illustrate that, depending on the actor and the level he/she acts at, sustainability and the actions that can be taken to contribute to a more sustainable product are perceived differently: even though the robot is a minor contributor to the carbon footprint at cell or line level, from the perspective of a robot producer reducing the electricity consumption during the robot's use stage can be a considerable improvement in the carbon footprint of a robot, and thus in the sustainability profile of the robot.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2015 IEEE International Conference on Automation Science and Engineering (CASE)
    Publication date2015
    Pages1351 - 1356
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    Event2015 IEEE International Conference on Automation Science and Engineering - Gothenburg, Sweden
    Duration: 24 Aug 201528 Aug 2015


    Conference2015 IEEE International Conference on Automation Science and Engineering

    Bibliographical note

    Conference paper, presented at the 2015 IEEE International Conference on Automation Science and Engineering (CASE)<br/>DOI 10.1109/CoASE.2015.7294286


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