Circular 4.0 project

The Circular 4.0 project will investigate how data, acquired through the latest advances in digital technologies such as those catalysed by the Internet of Things (IoT), can shape decisions about the manufacture and utilisation of engineering products to accelerate the implementation of more circular approaches in the fourth Industrial Revolution (I4.0). The study is distinctive and innovative due to its integration of circular innovation principles and manufacture, information theory and manufacturing informatics, to enable a data driven transformation in resource use across the UK Manufacturing Sector. The multi-disciplinary team have significant experience and internationally recognised expertise to deliver high quality research and scientific advancement that accelerates the transition towards a Circular Economy (CE).

Complementarity to Existing Activity

This research advances findings from the feasibility study (FS) ‘Circular 4.0: Digital Intelligence to Enable a Circular Economy’ funded by the EPSRC Network Plus: Industrial Systems in the Digital Age. Through investigating remanufacture within the automotive industry, the FS identified that i) the analysis of in-service data from automotive components can influence decisions surrounding remanufacture and can lead to significant cost, material and resource savings by reducing the uncertainty in the condition of components returned for remanufacture1, ii) there is a need for fundamental research into how interactions between products, users and manufacturers can be mathematically characterised to inform opportunities for circular approaches2, and iii) to enable a transformational change in resource use across the manufacturing sector a wider spectrum of CE strategies need to be investigated across multiple industrial sectors.
The team assembled to deliver this research provides the spectrum of expertise required to tackle the challenge of understanding how digital technology can accelerate the implementation of circular approaches to resource use in UK manufacturing. A number of industrial organisations have contributed to proposal development and will play important roles within the project as use case partners (Airbus, Rolls Royce and Riversimple), in providing technology support (Cisco Systems), supporting cross-sector learning and Technology Readiness Level (TRL) development (The Manufacturing Technology Centre), and extending our dissemination reach (The Ellen MacArthur Foundation).

The project delivery team has an impressive track record both as individuals and collaborators, are well connected with clear links to existing complementary EPSRC grants (detailed above), and have existing collaborations with project partners and industrial networks.