Environmental Impacts On Engineering Products


02 Nov 2017

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COURSE TITLE: BEng (Hons) Electrical Engineering

STUDENT ID No: 9500116409

MODULE NAME: Innovation & Design for Sustainability

ASSIGNMENT NAME: Environmental Impacts on Engineering Products


Question 1

Part A

Review and critically evaluate how your industry is relating energy to environmental issues such as global warming, pollution. Within your evaluation, you must consider energy consumption and industrial development post the Kyoto agreement. (500 words)

e2v technologies operate largely within the manufacturing sector, more specifically high-technology components, sub-systems and solutions for electronic & electrical systems. The company’s core markets include; commercial & industrial, aerospace & defence, medical & science (e2v technologies, 2012).

The main deliverable of the Kyoto Protocol was for industrialised nations to commit to reducing their combined emissions by at least 5% from the figures of 1990 over a five year period of 2008-2012. Individual countries that signed the protocol agreed to their own specific targets, with EU countries working to a reduction figure of around 8% and Japan working to 5% reduction. Countries with already low emissions (or countries in economic development) were permitted to increase their emissions; offset by the reduction efforts of larger nations (BBC News, 2005).

In the UK, the government’s energy policy is closely linked to the climate change policy, which has largely been developed in recent years as a direct result of the Kyoto Protocol (signed by the UK on the 29th of April 1998 and ratified on 31st of May 2002). These policies are primarily focussed on reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, notably carbon dioxide, to be able to meet the targets of the Kyoto Protocol and in turn make a significant contribution in tackling global warming (Lea & Nicholson, 2010).

There are two key pieces of legislature for the UK’s commitment to reducing CO2 emissions. The first is the Climate Change Act, introduced by the UK Parliament in 2008. The second is the Renewables Directive, also introduced in 2008 but was created by the European Union. The combined effect of these two pieces of legislature is significant. The Climate Change Act sets a very challenging 80% reduction in greenhouse gases (34% by 2020 to be on target) when compared to 1990 baseline figures. The Renewables Directive has set the UK a target of renewable energy representing at least 15% of its total energy production by 2020 (Lea & Nicholson, 2010).

These pieces of legislature are imposed in a number of different ways, but the result is that energy costs are significantly increased as the costs of implementing GHG reductions and renewable energy sources are ultimately passed on the customer; domestic or commercial. In addition, the UK government introduced a Climate Change Levy (CCL), which is a tax imposed on energy consumption in industry, commerce and public sectors (HM Revenue & Customs, 2012).

The competitiveness of British manufacturing will be undermined by rising energy costs, particularly for energy intensive industries (e2v, for example, uses many furnacing processes) (Lea & Nicholson, 2010). This means threats have and will continue to emerge from developing countries, such as China, that do not place the same emphasis on GHG reduction as the UK and EU.

For British manufacturing to remain competitive under the constraints of rising energy prices and the pressures of environmental issues, it must consider how these challenges are also a driving factor for change in both domestic and global products and services. The development of greener, more efficient products and the advancement of new technologies to replace older, inefficient manufacturing processes could allow British manufacturing to create new markets and exploit emerging and expanding industries worldwide (Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, 2010).

Part B

Compare and contrast the approach adopted by your organisation and a competitor within the same industrial sector. Within you response you should consider strategies adopted for future sustainability. (750 words)

A close competitor of e2v is Raytheon UK, part of the Raytheon group, which is a major US defence contractor. Raytheon UK is also known as Raytheon Systems Limited and consider themselves as a ‘technology and innovation leader specialising in defence, national security and other government and commercial markets around the world.’ (Raytheon, 2012). Both companies are trusted suppliers to the UK Ministry of Defence and develop products such as RF components and systems (Raytheon, 2011).

Although the Raytheon group is a far larger business entity than e2v, if considering Raytheon UK as a stand-alone company a more direct comparison can be made. 2011 year end sales for Raytheon UK was £270m (Raytheon, 2011), when compared to e2v’s £230m for the same year (Digital Look, 2013). Raytheon UK employs around 1,200 people (Raytheon, 2011), whereas e2v employ some 1,500 people, the majority of which are based in the UK (The Telegraph, 2012).

As both companies operate within the British electronics manufacturing sector, are of similar size and share common markets, most notably defence, they will each face similar issues concerning sustainable development for their own businesses, society and the environment.

The most widely recognised definition of sustainable development is that given by United Nations General Assembly on March 20th, 1987: ‘Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’ (United Nations General Assembly, 1987). This means both companies have a corporate responsibility to conduct their business in a manner that does not have a negative impact on society or the future in the longer term.


Fig. 1 – 3 Nested Model of Sustainable Development (Porritt, 2006)

The nested dependencies model of sustainable suggests that both economy and society are constrained by environmental limits. Porritt (2006, p. 46), as cited by Cato (2009, pp. 36-37) states ‘The economy is, in the first instance, a subsystem of human society… which is itself, in the second instance, a subsystem of the totality of life on Earth (the biosphere). And no subsystem can expand beyond the total capacity of which it is a part.’ I feel that this statement highlights the need of corporate responsibility with regard to sustainable development.

Raytheon claim to integrate energy efficiency and environmentally friendly behaviour into daily practice in order to achieve sustainable growth (Raytheon, 2011). They classify their sustainability programme under four key headings; energy conservation for sustainable growth, pollutions prevention and waste reduction, climate and greenhouse gas emissions and environmental sustainability projects.

Under the ‘energy conservation for sustainable growth’ heading, Raytheon highlights its training and awareness schemes to better educate the 75,000 employees it has worldwide. They encourage their staff to become ‘Raytheon Energy Citizens’ to instil a mind-set of reduction of energy consumption and GHGs. Raytheon have reduced their energy consumption per dollar of revenue by 38% over the last seven years and also recognised by the US Environmental Protection Agency with a Sustained Excellence Award in 2010, their sixth Energy Star recognition in ten years. (Raytheon, 2011).

For the heading ‘pollution prevention and waste reduction’, Raytheon explains how it aims for zero waste generation, recycling waste than cannot be eliminated. It states that in 2007 82% of hazardous waste was disposed of through recycling and 58% of all solid waste was recycled in the same year (Raytheon, 2011).

As for ‘climate and greenhouse gas emissions’, Raytheon have been tracking their GHG emissions since 2002 and set an ‘aggressive goal’ to reduce them by 33%, normalised against their group revenue. By the end of 2007, the reduction figure was 28%; however no further information has been made available (Raytheon, 2011).

The e2v group currently holds certification to ISO 14001 for its environmental management system. e2v technologies (n.d.) states that it ‘is committed to reducing its overall environmental impact of its operations’. It has defined its areas of focus for its EMS as being; reduction in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, reduction in landfill waste generated, increase in recycling of waste materials. e2v is also committed to elimination of hazard chemicals from its manufacturing processes and finished products where technically and economically viable to do so (e2v technologies, n.d.).

e2v states that its EMS is globally deployed. e2v also voluntarily participates in the Business in the Community (BITC) Environmental Index to benchmark environmental management against other UK organisations. Whilst the company only scored 52% in 2008, it improved vastly in 2009 to score 94% (gold award), repeated the same performance in 2010, and improved further still in 2011 to score 95% (platinum award) (e2v technologies, n.d.).

Both companies show a truly dedicated and mature approach to sustainable development. They have, and will continue to demonstrate that manufacturing, a business that is typically scrutinised as being energy intensive (especially in the defence sector, where the environment is not always the most primary concern) can rise to the challenges and demands of sustainable development (Lea & Nicholson, 2010).

Question 2

Review and discuss the impact legislation has on your organisational approach to design and life-cycle analysis and relate these impacts to the costs associated with transport and disposal. (1000 words)

Legislation inevitably has an effect on the way any organisation is run, and this is all too true for manufacturing. Many of the more recent legislatures introduced that affect UK manufacturing are environmentally centric.

Legislations such as the RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) directive, REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) and the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) directive require companies to take responsibility for the environmental impacts of their activities. Failure to comply with such directives can be financially costly for a business; fines and/or loss of revenues (either from loss of orders, lost certification or complete prohibition on selling product).

The WEEE directive was introduced into European Union law in February 2003 (alongside the RoHS directive) and places a direct responsibility on electrical equipment manufacturers. Conformance Ltd. (2012) summarises ‘The WEEE Directive is aimed at reducing the amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment that ends up in landfill. The cost of this collection and processing of WEEE is met by producers, although consumers will inevitably see the effect in the raised prices they pay. Most EEE is covered by the Directive but there are specific exclusions for large scale industrial tools and products designed for military use.’

The RoHS directive was published at the same time as the WEEE directive and they are linked in purpose. By eliminating hazardous substances from new electrical/electronic products under the RoHS directive, a larger proportion of electrical/electronic waste can be recycled effectively under the WEEE directive (Conformance Ltd., 2012).

REACH is a directive which came into effect from June 1st 2007 and affects all countries within the EU. Its aim is to provide better and earlier identification of the properties of chemical substances for the purposes of both health and environmental benefit. It is an integrated system for Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals. The primary responsibility for providing information and risk management lies with manufacturers or importers of chemicals, but there are also obligations for users further down the supply chain, particularly regarding safe use and storage (Nevison, 2007).


Fig. 2 – Product Life Cycle Diagram (University of Cambridge, 2011)

Of course, such legislature has a large impact on any manufacturing company in their approach to design and life-cycle analysis. Figure 2 shows a typical product life-cycle model. It illustrates the journey a new product makes from raw material, through to design and production, packing and distribution, use and maintenance and end of life disposal, where the product is reused, recycled or disposed of. Even if a company is not consciously thinking about this model, this is the life-cycle all products follow.

The implementation of RoHS, WEEE and REACH directives in particular are key factors in the product life-cycle management of both new and existing products. Within product life-cycle management (PLM), there are four main phases; conceive, design, realise and service (Miller, 2008). Key legislature will impact the way a business approaches these four development phases.

The conceive phase will cover the specification and conceptual idea. This stage is also where legislature and environmental impacts of a product must first be considered, as the product requirements specification needs to define the legislative requirements that are applicable to the new product. e2v tackles this phase by generating requirements specifications under a systems engineering approach, as discussed later.

This specification then flows to the next phases of product life-cycle management; design and realisation. As the relevant legislature should have already been specified at the conceive phase, the design and realisation stages should be ensuring that the relevant legislations are met. e2v ensures component selection is considered in the design to guarantee RoHS compliances. Equally, manufacturing processes should be considered; coatings and finishes to components and piece parts will need to be considered for RoHS and REACH status. e2v employs quality, regulatory and compliance engineers to ensure that the requirements of legislature are addressed.

Finally, the service phase will need to consider how a product is supported in a way that is both economically viable and environmentally friendly. One way in which e2v approaches service to achieve these goals is to have localised distributors with component stocks and service agents located in key strategic areas. This eliminates the need for sending individual components globally, or sending engineers from the UK to remote locations. This reduces on travel and transportation costs, as well as the GHG emissions associated with them. The service phase also needs to consider the end-of-life disposal of a product. e2v approaches this within its component business by offering discounted replacements for old products. The old product is returned to e2v, where it is reused, or recycled. How e2v manages end-of-life disposal of its large systems remains to be seen, but it has an obligation under the WEEE directive to take responsibility for their disposal.

In recent years, e2v has begun to shift its focus from RF component design & manufacture and develop its capability for supplying complete RF systems (e2v technologies, n.d.). This will inevitably introduce new challenges that would not have existed in its core component business.

Systems engineering is used as a means to enable the successful delivery of systems by focussing on defining the customer’s needs and required functionality at the start of the development cycle. This is documented in formal requirements specifications, to which a solution is developed and then validated against the original requirements specification (International Council on Systems Engineering, 2004). e2v is thoroughly adopting this systems engineering approach for its new system development projects. This approach is not only beneficial for the quality of the end product, but allows e2v to address some of the environmental challenges faced by modern engineering companies.

The concept encourages a high-level of detail to be captured before the design stage. In theory, this eliminates the need for; multiple design iterations of a product, having to modify the design at a later and reduced likelihood of significant design changes later in a product’s service life. The engineering resource, as well as material and energy resources, associated with having to repeatedly redesign, modify and revalidate a system should therefore be saved.

For systems that may have already been put into production and sold to customers, the effort required to implement a design change increases drastically and factors such as supply chain management, production activities, after sales support, logistics and technical service suddenly become very significant.

The introduction of a systems engineering approach at e2v should provide a clear and structured approach to design & development activities leading into production, as well as a means of minimising the environmental effects of its operations.


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