Reimagining industrial engineering

Last Updated 23 December 2021, 06:41 IST

Conventionally, industrial engineering was tasked with optimising the shop floor facilities, managing overall work environment, maintaining efficient workflow, warehouse and inventory.

However, of late, industries are adopting more sustainable and circular manufacturing practices across their operations.

This change has been prompted by a few hard facts. Energy use by industries is responsible for roughly a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions; road transport contributes about 12% and waste generation about 3.2%.

Industrial processes are now seeking to reduce waste, repair products rather than replacing them and involve the recovery and reuse of materials where possible.

To ensure sustainability, industrial engineering has a renewed scope:

Use clean energy and make efficient use of natural resources while designing production processes with use of clean energy (renewables) and more efficient use of natural resources.

Adopt digital technologies to reduce waste generation and emission at the source.

Adopt a circular supply chain by building shop floors with a philosophy of reduce (waste), repair (product), recover and reuse (parts) at its centre.

Design sustainable products that can be modified to reduce waste.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can enhance and accelerate the development of new products, components, and materials fit for circular economy through iterative machine learning assisted design processes that allow rapid prototyping and testing.

Robotics can help in sorting out and cleaning recycled materials round the clock; and in remote places where humans have safety concerns.

Internet of Things (IOT): With an interconnected shop floor, IOT helps in optimising the Logistics, Inventory Management and preventive Equipment Maintenance.

Circulytics or analytics as applied to circular business processes helps with in depth analysis of real time data about raw materials, sourcing, tracking the use, repair and reusability of products which in turn facilitates sustainable and circular supply chains.

Jobs in sustainable industrial engineering include Sustainability Officers, reverse logistics managers, sustainable product design specialists, sustainable programming specialists, clean IT specialists, clean energy specialists, sustainable supply chain specialists, sustainability consultants and analysts, sustainable material scientists, sustainable packaging designers, carbon footprint analytics specialist, waste recycling analysts etc.

(Published 21 December 2021, 07:27 IST)

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