Centre for International Manufacturing (CIM) - research in sustainable supply networks

CIM has recently been awarded two major grants in the area of sustainable supply networks. This month it has also had an article published in 'Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part B: Journal of Engineering Manufacture'.

Understanding sustainable supply network capabilities of multinationals: A capability maturity model approach by Jagjit S Srai, Leila Alinaghian and David Kirkwood, proposes a process maturity model-based alternative to supply network carbon measurement approaches in global supply networks design – namely, the systematic review of organisational routines and practices relevant to sustainable manufacturing. The incorporation of sustainability dimensions within an established supply chain maturity model architecture also provides a basis for potential trade-offs.


The paper presents 12 case studies of international manufacturing multinationals where the maturity model framework has been applied. The resulting study demonstrates the feasibility and utility of the approach, as well as identifying potential drivers for manufacturing sustainability linked to the industrial supply network position, including the regulatory context, and consumer sentiment.


Over time, global supply networks design has evolved to include more strategic concepts, such as how particular network configurations might support strategic and operational capabilities. The maturity model methodology is an established approach to assessing operational capabilities, where the emphasis is on notions of evolution and levels of process formality.


More recently, there has been a growing emphasis on sustainable supply networks, driving industrial practitioners to address energy and resource efficiencies and waste minimisation. However, quantitative measurement approaches such as carbon footprinting beyond the firm boundary are complex and resource-intensive, and present significant validation challenges. This research proposes an alternative approach to the design and configuration of sustainable supply networks. To read the full article click here.


Grant Awards


CIM has recently been awarded two important grants: a £1m grant for their Engineering Driven Sustainable Supply Networks project, awarded by EPSRC and the Department of Science and Innovation (DST) of India, with Cambridge as the lead university, and one for Sustainable Chemical Feedstocks awarded by EPSRC to the value of £2.5m led by the University of Bath. Both projects are due to start later this year/early 2014.


The Centre for International Manufacturing focuses on strategic and operations management research in close collaboration with industrial partners. The Centre provides expertise in the areas of international manufacturing and supply networks, particularly factory/plant management, operations network configuration and design and the development of system capabilities.

Date published

19 April 2013

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