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New Global Sustainable Manufacturing Model

23 May 2017



Collaboration between UNSW Sydney, Chalmers University Sweden and Australian industry helps develop new global sustainable manufacturing model.

Ilaria Barletta has been driven by her passion on sustainability since she was a child. This journey was inspired after she read a comic starring Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck, the nephews of Walt Disney’s famous Donald Duck, talking about the damaging impact of CFCs to the ozone layer. Immediately after this she introduced her family, based in Southern Italy, to household recycling and, not surprisingly, her first project as a PhD student was about electronic waste sorting.

Ilaria is a PhD candidate in sustainable manufacturing at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden.  She started her research in the area of sustainable factories in the Department of Industrial and Materials Science in Chalmers more than three years ago and is coached by Professor Johan Stahre, Professor Björn Johansson and Associate Professor Cecilia Berlin.  She has, during her time, had the chance to delve into different topics such as Life Cycle Assessment, KPIs for sustainable factories, simulation of production systems and social sustainability for factory workers.

In December 2016 Ilaria joined UNSW through an Inbound Research Practicum for 6 months. Her purpose was to develop a model to map and evaluate the maturity level of core capabilities of manufacturing firms. Whilst in Australia she has been collaborating with Dr Erik van Voorthuysen and Mr Corey Martin from the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at UNSW Sydney, as well as three globally recognised Sydney-based manufacturing companies, in order to improve and test such a model. Ilaria states that “Australia has enormous potential to improve sustainability performance of product footprints, develop a growing number of talents in product and process engineering and design, and create cross-sectorial partnerships that foster innovation. This is what world-class manufacturing is all about: hands-on engineering education coupled with the development of critical thinking is key for universities to make that happen.”

One of the manufacturing firms that has collaborated with Ilaria in her research is Clark Equipment, a company based in Hornsby that produces material handling equipment.

“I had the great opportunity to delve into the challenges and the strengths of the company, and now I am summarizing this information in a way that hopefully is easy to visualize and allows internal benchmarking. 
I met great people working at Clark Equipment. They were open to collaboration and sharing insights. I could sense how much passion these people put in to what they did, from welding operations to taking care of after-sale customer requests, which represent core capabilities of the company.”

Ilaria feels that her research time at UNSW has increased the depth and breadth of her experience as a world citizen and as a researcher who engages with other researchers, business people and students willing to make this world a better place.

As featured on www.engineering.unsw.edu.au


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