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Title: Sustainable product development in the industrial gas sector
Author: Pemberton, Gareth
ISNI:       0000 0004 8510 1125
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2019
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In the midst of the global recession many companies struggled to bring new products to market. There was a focus on cost optimisation, consumer searched for lower cost options in an effort to maintain profits while manufacturers responded by driving production costs down. The continuation of this short term approach is not sustainable. A new way of working is needed to develop sustainable products and to continue developing products. Some industries have reacted to this call and have found benefits in transitioning to sustainability. In the industrial gas industry a trend of lower costs has resulting in commoditisation of the market. This work investigates if there is a redirection can be found in moving towards sustainable practices. An initial question asked in this work is if a more sustainable product can be beneficial to the industrial gas industry. A trial is conducted to investigate increasing the useable life of a gas cylinder. Two technical approaches are explored which deliver significant increases in life, upwards of 30%. To achieve the products, new mathematical models are developed for product design work which along with a focus on performance parameters leads to new developments in equipment and test methods. Business case models are developed to identify benefits for the manufacturer and consumer. The result provide potentially transformational changes in performance, identifying that sustainability can have strong benefits and be technically achieved. However it is found that the methodologies for development are a limiting factor, ultimately restricting the launch of new products. The trial finds the product development methods used need to be addressed if sustainable development is to be achieved. Sustainable product development methods have been considered previously. The intent is that products are designed to be of low environmental impact, provide fairness in the supply chain and provide benefits to the consumer. However, the use of methods is not prevalent, typically due to an over focus on environmental impact, complex systems of assessment and methods. Investigations into best practices in product development highlight integrated techniques, disruptive innovations and portfolio management. A combination of knowledge in sustainable development and best in class product development methods provides the basis of a new sustainable product development methodology. The aim is to create and develop a system that enables sustaining product developments. The new methodology developed uses an integrated product development framework merged with a definition of sustainability. The methodology is described by a framework, a process map and a guideline such that it can be easily followed and implemented. The framework introduces a strategic segment in technology to address a gap identified in the literature and in industrial gases of continued technical development. The work also includes an assessment method. This takes the form of a matrix which links the framework to sustainability factors. A rating method is developed for performance assessment and the calculation of a new indicator, the sustain index. The outputs are visualised and used for decision making at an individual development level and for portfolio management. The new methodology developed focuses on a balanced approach to efficiency, equity, and the environment. Application of new technologies are explored in the industrial gas industry in order to test the technology strategy developed. A research approach is developed using three separate cases studies. The case studies investigate if similar benefits can be achieved in the application of new technologies as observed in other industries. The hypothesis is addressed along with queries on specific benefits and drawbacks identified for the industrial gas industry. It is shown that the application of new technologies can create step changes in products and processes. The results are seen in three pioneering products. The strategy enables differentiation and gives a competitive edge. Implementation of the methodology is explored. A specific approach is developed from a literature search and interviews. Interviews are used to deepen knowledge on process change in research and development. A seven step action plan for transformational change is proposed. An example is then conducted. An increase in performance is observed, the sustainability measures improve, and the product development time halves. In summary this work finds shortfalls of sustainable product development methods through literature and practice. It then considers the best processes for product development and creates a new methodology. This is achieved through a framework, a guideline, an assessment method and an implementation method. Developed areas are then tested. A strategy of new technologies is shown to promote sustainability. The methodology is then implemented though a case study and the transformation documented.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Gas Control Equipment
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HD Industries. Land use. Labor ; TP Chemical technology ; TS Manufactures