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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R032041/1
Title: Circular4.0: Data Driven Intelligence for a Circular Economy
Principal Investigator: Charnley, Professor F
Other Investigators:
Moreno-Beguerisse, Dr M Esnaola, Dr I Tiwari, Professor A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Airbus Operations Limited Cisco Ellen Macarthur Foundation
Riversimple Movement Ltd Rolls-Royce Plc (UK) The Manufacturing Technology Centre Ltd
Department: School of Water, Energy and Environment
Organisation: Cranfield University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 02 January 2019 Ends: 30 April 2019 Value (£): 775,606
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Manufact. Enterprise Ops& Mgmt
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Aerospace, Defence and Marine Manufacturing
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
22 Feb 2018 Manufacturing Prioritisation Panel - Feb 2018 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Circular approaches to design, manufacture and services are proposed as one of the most significant opportunities to radically re-think how we use and re-use finite resources. Pairing the digital revolution with the principles of a Circular Economy (CE) has the potential to radically transform the industrial landscape and its relationship to materials and finite resources, thus unlocking additional value for the manufacturing sector. Despite meaningful success by a handful of manufacturers to move towards more sustainable practices through the use of data-driven intelligence, it is unclear which CE strategy is the most valuable for a business and at what time in a products lifecycle it should be implemented. As such, this research aims to identify how data from products in use can inform intelligent decisions surrounding the implementation of Circular Economy strategies so as to accelerate the implementation of circular approaches to resource use within UK manufacturing.

Multiple research efforts and best practice examples have shown that a transition towards a Circular Economy can bring about lasting benefits from a more innovative, resilient and productive economy. This is particularly prevalent for manufacturing as it offers one of the biggest potentials for economic and environmental impact of any sector. It is estimated that materials savings alone in the European Union could amount to USD 630 billion. Digital technology is rapidly becoming a key enabler for unlocking the value from Circular Economy strategies with an estimated 10 billion physical objects with embedded information technology already in existence today and a predicted 50 billion in use by 2020. For the manufacturing sector, the ability to monitor and manage objects in the physical world electronically through data-driven decision-making changes the way that value is created. The capture and analysis of data streams between manufacturing, product and user is already enabling organisations to decouple manufacturing growth from resource consumption through new service offerings, providing customers with added value such as financial savings and safety improvement, and enabling organisations to shift their business model from selling to leasing. This shift in ownership, enabled through access to the right data, brings about a need for manufacturers to design products that last and to integrate processes such as remanufacturing to enable materials and resources to be cycled as many times as possible resulting in significant environmental savings, job creation and up-skilling associated with the development of new processes. Through harnessing digital technological advances to inform decisions on Circular Economy strategies, this research has the opportunity to radically transform UK manufacturing and enable the sector to capture significant value from a Circular Economy that is currently being lost.

The originality of this research lies in using data-driven intelligence to optimise the selection of CE strategies for products and the timings of intervention in the product lifecycle. This challenging three year project will bring together an internationally renowned team of experts in Circular Innovation, Manufacturing Informatics and Information Theory from Cranfield University and University of Sheffield drawing on leading-edge strengths of the host institutions and international connections with research communities, companies, business intermediaries and governance at national and international scales. The research team will partner with key players across the manufacturing sector, capable of initiating system level change, to develop novel methods for acquiring and integrating new data streams, uncovering exciting opportunities for new value creation within manufacturing organisations and enabling informed circular interventions surrounding the manufacture and use of products.

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Organisation Website: http://www.cranfield.ac.uk