Industry 4.0: product digital twins for remanufacturing decision-making

Kerin, Mairi Elaine ORCID: 0000-0002-8303-3443 (2022). Industry 4.0: product digital twins for remanufacturing decision-making. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Currently there is a desire to reduce natural resource consumption and expand circular business principles whilst Industry 4.0 (I4.0) is regarded as the evolutionary and potentially disruptive movement of technology, automation, digitalisation, and data manipulation into the industrial sector. The remanufacturing industry is recognised as being vital to the circular economy (CE) as it extends the in-use life of products, but its synergy with I4.0 has had little attention thus far. This thesis documents the first investigating into I4.0 in remanufacturing for a CE contributing a design and demonstration of a model that optimises remanufacturing planning using data from different instances in a product’s life cycle.

The initial aim of this work was to identify the I4.0 technology that would enhance the stability in remanufacturing with a view to reducing resource consumption. As the project progressed it narrowed to focus on the development of a product digital twin (DT) model to support data-driven decision making for operations planning. The model’s architecture was derived using a bottom-up approach where requirements were extracted from the identified complications in production planning and control that differentiate remanufacturing from manufacturing. Simultaneously, the benefits of enabling visibility of an asset’s through-life health were obtained using a DT as the modus operandi. A product simulator and DT prototype was designed to use Internet of Things (IoT) components, a neural network for remaining life estimations and a search algorithm for operational planning optimisation. The DT was iteratively developed using case studies to validate and examine the real opportunities that exist in deploying a business model that harnesses, and commodifies, early life product data for end-of-life processing optimisation. Findings suggest that using intelligent programming networks and algorithms, a DT can enhance decision-making if it has visibility of the product and access to reliable remanufacturing process information, whilst existing IoT components provide rudimentary “smart” capabilities, but their integration is complex, and the durability of the systems over extended product life cycles needs to be further explored.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Pham, Duc
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Engineering & Physical Sciences
School or Department: School of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Funders: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Subjects: T Technology > TJ Mechanical engineering and machinery


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