Conference Tour: 19th Global Conference on Sustainable Manufacturing 2023 in Buenos Aires

A month ago Marc Münnich and other members of the Fraunhofer IWU presented their research projects regarding sustainable manufacturing at the Global Conference on Sustainable Manufacturing“ (GCSM). Marc Münnich presented on behalf of the #zukunftsfabrik team a maturity model that evaluates the current state of digitalization in small and medium sized enterprises (SME). At the GCSM scientist from all over the world presented their ideas concerning sustainable manufacturing. Thus, we could meet Dr. Shun Yang from the Department of Design Production & Management (DPM) of the University of Twente (Netherlands). Dr. Shun Yang presented a maturity model aiming for the decarbonization of the production.

The Global Conference on Sustainable Manufacturing (GCSM) serves as a forum for academics, researchers, and specialists worldwide, focusing on sustainable manufacturing. It uniquely integrates industrial engineering perspectives with sustainable manufacturing applications in both emerging and developing countries. Additionally, it emphasizes education and workforce development to advance sustainable manufacturing processes. From December 4 to 6, 2023, the conference took place in in Buenos Aires, Argentina and was hosted by Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires (ITBA), Technical University of Berlin (IWF) and Fraunhofer IPK.

Contributions of the Fraunhofer team with two keynotes and a paper contribution of the #zukunftsfabrik team

The team of Fraunhofer IWU provided two keynotes to this conference and a paper contribution of the #zukunftsfabrik team. Prof. Rafael Wertheim held a keynote about biologization in industrial application and gave various examples of how natural principles can be applied on industrial products and processes. Esther Ascheri elaborated on the opportunities of green hydrogen to decarbonize industrial processes as well as futures paths to mass produce components for electrolyzers and fuel cells as part of the work of the Referenzfabrik.H2 in Chemnitz.

To evaluate the current state of digitalization in SME the #zukunftsfabrik team developed a maturity model

Our department introduced a maturity model to evaluate the current state of digitalization and sustainability in small and medium sized enterprises (SME). The focus of the model lies on the identification of potentials to foster digitalization and sustainability of SME by evaluating the technological, organizational and personnel structures of SME in a workshop-based format. The starting point of the model development formed an extensive literature review regarding available maturity models for sustainability. From that, 28 relevant maturity models were identified, analyzed and their aspects were clustered into Technology, Organization and Personnel. The main categories of the model can be found subsequently:

Figure 1  – © IWU – Development process for the maturity model

Extension of the model due to scientific discussion about the mutual impact of digitalization and sustainability

As a result, concrete project ideas for either or both domains can be derived. Currently, discussions about the mutual impact of digitalization and sustainability are discussed in the scientific community. This led us to the aim of extending the model with a simple method to identify possible negative effects on ecological sustainability, so called rebound or backfire effects, during the workshop. The model was tested with a service supplier for cleaning, surface treatment and logistics and showed good applicability. Further assessments are part of our work in the Mittelstand-Digital Zentrum Chemnitz, where SME can get support regarding all topics of digitalization, sustainability, and artificial intelligence free of charge.

Different maturity model was designed by the Department of Design Production & Management (DPM) of the University of Twente (Netherlands)

Among many other interesting topics, our colleagues from the Department of Design Production & Management (DPM) of the University of Twente contributed a similar topic. The team of the chair of Manufacturing Systems designed a maturity model for the decarbonization of production together with Siemens and focused on SME in their application test. Dr. Shun Yang presented the paper on behalf of his team and underlines the necessity of easy-to-handle tools for SME to identify further potentials to increase sustainability for SME. This underpins the necessity of handy tools for SME to support green transformation from the beginning and identity paths to further decarbonization on all levels of corporate structures.

The conference was rounded out by a dinner and cultural program as well as visits of industrial partners and laboratories to demonstrate best practices in sustainable manufacturing. The next GCSM Conference will be held in 2024 at the Vietnamese-German University (VGU) in Vietnam.

Figure 2 © IWU Marc Münnich and Dr. Shun Yang at GCSM

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