March 17, 2020

The Supply Chains’ Role in combatting Climate change

  • The need for greater efficiency and energy use driving material availability
  • Availability of critical natural resources putting a strain on the supply chain
  • The impact this is having on ROHS and REACH

When considering Global Issues, Climate Change is one that is (rightfully) receiving prominence. Climate change is an issue that is being actively discussed across all areas, from Children in Schools, all the way to World Leaders, Politicians, and Business Owners alike, with direct action being taken immediately to try and limit the impacts.

And Industry is playing its part. In addition to the plans for achieving Carbon neutrality, Manufacturers are starting to monitor their energy and waste usage within their processes, and Innovators are looking at new, efficient designs to reduce power consumption, whilst offering an improvement in performance and efficiency. However these developments in technology, along with the drive for greater efficiency, and optimised energy use, comes with further challenges beyond that of the product development lifecycle.

In all industries the primary focus to supporting Climate change are going to be innovation and sustainability. This means that the Supply Chain needs to keep pace and as a key part of the supply chain’s strength, unless Obsolescence and material availability is managed effectively, Innovation may never be fully realised, and a product may never achieve true sustainability. And all this means challenges to the manufacturing community that need to be addressed.

Availability and use of critical natural resources

The first pressing challenge is that of an ever increasing market demand.

With the drive for more improvements in product development, the demand within the supply chain is invariably increased. Take for instance the case of electric vehicles, whilst the car manufacturers can assemble the vehicles in large numbers, as desired by the end-consumer, they are dependent upon their suppliers in being able to meet the same demand for components and raw materials. In addition, with companies now offering their products/technologies across multiple industries, in order to realise greater cost efficiencies, any major improvement in performance can further increase the demand, putting strain on availability across all industries and leading to Supply Chain issues of delivery and availability.

Similarly, the majority of the new technologies are dependent upon scarce/rare raw-materials. This can further lead to Material Availability issues resulting from restrictions on mining operations (minimising the effects on nature/environment), processing resource (availability of equipment labour) and Geographic risks (trading sanctions, geopolitical issues, etc) within the area they are sourced. All these can once again lead to material shortages, and lengthy delays within the supply chain.

The impact that redundant and Legacy materials is having on Material availability and waste (ROHS and REACH)

In recent news, the European commission has presented plans to limit the “throwaway” culture, and ensure that product lifecycles can be extended. With the current development of new technology (think IC’s and Semi-conductors, etc), and the need to have the latest tech, if a consumer has the ability to upgrade or repair their own device, there would be a large reduction in the volume of waste devices being thrown out. However this in turn increases the demand for the spare parts and upgrades, in addition to the demands of routine production. Unless this is factored in, demand for spare parts could overwhelm the supply chain, causing further issues with material availability and lead-times. From a process and regulations perspective this also has significant implications with regards to REACH and ROHS. Currently Industry is reasonably aware and compliant with these directives, however should the user have the ability to swap out parts then the onus will be on them to ensure that any waste electrical products are handled in a compliant manner.

The role of support in ensuring legacy equipment isn’t forgotten

But this drive to keep products in active-use for long periods is not a new concept. Industries such as Defence and Aerospace are well aware of the need to keep equipment operating and active for long periods of time. In both these Industries, Obsolescence Management is becoming more and more important, and IEC62402 is being invoked more frequently in order to ensure the availability for the end-user.

The challenge Industry faces is that with the drive for new technology it is important that both the legacy equipment, and the new innovations are both considered equally when it comes to support. In both instances there exists considerable risk of material availability throughout the lifecycle. In order to offer a truly sustainable product the risk of obsolescence needs to be considered at all stages as part of an effective Pro-active Obsolescence Management.

CMCA(UK) has capabilities and Resources to support and increase value within your Supply-Chain

CMCA(UK) is a leading provider of Supply Chain Solutions. Within our core teams we have the ability to minimise the risk of material availability across both legacy and innovative equipment, minimising through-life support costs and mitigating the risk to your programmes.

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