The public defense of Sasha Shahbazi's doctoral thesis in Innovation and design

Doctoral thesis and Licentiate seminars

Datum: 2018-03-16
Tid: 10.00
Plats: Raspen (Eskilstuna Campus)

The public defense of Sasha Shahbazi's doctoral thesis in Innovation and design will take place at Mälardalen University, room Raspen (Eskilstuna Campus) at 10.00 on March 16, 2018.

Title: “Sustainable Manufacturing through Material Efficiency Management”.

Serial number: 253

The faculty examiner is Professor Peter Ball, University of York, and the examining committee consists of Professor Monica Odlare, Mälardalen University; Associate Professor Ola Norrman Eriksson, University of Gävle; Professor Jan Ola Strandhagen, NTNU – Norwegian University of Science and Technology. 

Reserve; Professor Glenn Johansson, MDH.


Material efficiency contributes to reduced industrial waste volumes, reduced extraction and consumption of virgin raw materials, increased waste segregation, decreased energy demand, and reduced carbon emissions, thereby generally mitigating the environmental impact of the manufacturing industry. However, the area of material efficiency in manufacturing is under-researched, and related knowledge is limited. Researchers and publications have drawn attention to the area of material efficiency in a broad sense, i.e., on a national and global level, but less has been published addressing the area of material efficiency in an operation, on process level, or at an individual manufacturing site. The individual manufacturing site and lower levels are crucial to achieve improved material efficiency, because a great amount of material and waste flows are generated on manufacturing shop floors. There are still gaps in both literature and industrial practice regarding material efficiency in manufacturing, where materials are consumed to make products and great volumes of waste are generated simultaneously.

The research objective of this dissertation is to contribute to existing knowledge on management and improvement of material efficiency in manufacturing. To achieve this objective, three research questions were formulated to investigate material efficiency barriers, material efficiency tools and strategies, and material efficiency performance measurement. The results are supported by four structured and extensive literature reviews and also by five empirical case studies conducted at a total of 14 Swedish global manufacturing companies, most of which operate in the automotive industry. These empirical studies entail observations, interviews, waste stream mapping, waste sorting analyses, environmental report reviews, and company walkthroughs to investigate material and waste flows along with industrial waste management systems.

A list of material efficiency barriers in manufacturing was identified and their empirical evidence was given. These barriers were categorized into six main groups, Technological, Social, Informational, Legal, Organizational, and Economic barriers, to facilitate an understanding of material efficiency and to effectively mitigate the barriers. The clustered barriers cited most often in the literature are budgetary, information, technology, management, vision and culture, uncertainty, engineering, and employees. In the empirical studies, vision and culture, technology, and uncertainty were replaced by communication. Most of the material efficiency barriers identified appear to be internal, i.e., originated within a company itself, and are dependent on the manufacturing company’s characteristics. Therefore, those can be eliminated given sufficient resources and better management.

A number of tools and strategies were identified and some were used to assess, manage, and improve material efficiency in the manufacturing companies studied. Empirical studies indicated that certain criteria are necessary to select and use operational tools. These criteria include being hands-on, time efficient, based on lean principles, easy-to-use and learn, visualized, promoting engagement, and being connected to a predetermined goal. These criteria are essential for mutual understanding, intra-organizational communication, performance improvement, and becoming a learning organization.

A model for a material efficiency performance measurement system was proposed that included the most common ME-KPIs from literature and empirical findings. The model divides material and waste flows into four main categories, productive input materials, auxiliary input materials, products, and residual output materials. The four main categories should be measured equally to realize material efficiency performance improvements in an operation. Empirical analysis reveals that on average 11 % of the KPIs in a plant could be directly related to material efficiency, while the majority of them largely have financial goals and are measured for quality and cost purposes.