Research Project Title
Design and Sustainability in Industry 4.0.
Research Project Summary
Industry 4.0 represents the next significant technological transformation of the manufacturing industry. Typified by the merging of physical and digital spheres, the ‘smart’ factories of the future are now being made possible by blanket internet connectivity and the affordability, availability and miniaturisation of hardware, like sensors and chips. As a result, manufacturing is expected to become increasingly automated, adaptable and flexible.
Whilst this will likely afford manufacturers improved resource efficiency and greater resilience in the face of ever-changing consumer demands, there will also be significant consequences for product design and sustainability.
With ‘design for manufacturability’ replaced by ‘design for mass customisation’, consumer engagement reaching new levels, giving rise to ‘prosumption’ and the connectivity of the physical object generating entirely new markets for product services, designers will inevitably be faced with new obstacles and opportunities in the years to come. Likewise, with improved resource efficiencies, increased supply chain transparency and the proliferation of bespoke consumer products, Industry 4.0 will also present both challenges and fresh possibilities for product sustainability.
With foresight and careful preparation, the disruption brought about by Industry 4.0 may be the catalyst needed to achieve an inherently sustainable and circular model for consumer products.
Rhiannon’s research therefore aims to explore possible future Industry 4.0 scenarios from a sustainable design perspective to identify strategies for a positive outcome.
Rhiannon Hunt is an award-winning designer and innovator creating successful, sustainable design concepts for a circular economy.
A qualified environmental scientist, Rhiannon gained experience working in environmental management before beginning an MA Textile Design at Chelsea College of Art and Design, exploring new sources of natural and renewable materials and dyes.
Following graduation, Rhiannon was granted the inaugural WRAP Extending the Life of Clothing award for her capsule collection of adaptable garments. Incorporating 3D printing technology and detachable components, the final collection went on to feature at Brighton Fashion Week 2015.
Rhiannon continues to develop her creative practice, embracing technology and sustainability as inspiration for her work, which in turn informs her PhD research into Industry 4.0 and the development of sustainable, future-ready design practices at the University for the Creative Arts.
She has also recently joined The Centre for Sustainable Design and is currently engaged with research projects on the maker movement and recycled materials for use in 3D printing.