Sustainability Science

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 621–637 | Cite as

A small-scale transdisciplinary process to maximising the energy efficiency of food factories: insights and recommendations from the development of a novel heat integration framework

  • J. H. Miah
  • A. Griffiths
  • R. McNeill
  • I. Poonaji
  • R. Martin
  • S. Morse
  • A. Yang
  • J. Sadhukhan
Special Feature: Case Report The Reality of Transdisciplinary Processes
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Special Feature: The Reality of Transdisciplinary Processes


The rise and uncertainty in energy prices in recent years has widened the solution search space by industry to understand the full impacts on operations and to develop a range of workable solutions to reduce risk. This has involved companies exploring alternative approaches to co-create solutions with different groups comprising varying intellectual capital, e.g. consultants, NGOs, and academia. This paper presents the small-scale transdisciplinary process adopted by Nestlé UK in partnership with the University of Surrey as part of an Engineering Doctorate (EngD) programme to co-develop a heat integration framework to improve the energy efficiency of a confectionery factory. The small-scale co-creation process—between industry and academia—for a heat integration framework is described and includes a set of criteria to evaluate the effectiveness of the process. The results of the evaluation process and a reflection of the key challenges and implications faced when trying to implement a small-scale transdisciplinary process are reported which covers the role of an EngD researcher as a manager, facilitator and researcher, time management, finance, communication, knowledge integration, mutual learning, and conflict. Some of the key recommendations for industrial practitioners include: actively engaging in the transdisciplinary process on a consistent basis, staying open minded to developing a solution even when there is a lack of progress, and building relationships with academics by supporting university activities, e.g. lecturing, research projects and funding proposals. For scientists, PhD students, research institutes, and private and public R&D, some of the key recommendations include: communicating expert knowledge to a few points rather than opening out into a lecture, contributing to the transdisciplinary process even if it is on a non-expert level but provides objective and critical input, and visiting industrial sites to gain exposure to industrial problems first-hand. Overall, the range of recommendations provided can help both industrial practitioners and scientists, especially doctoral students seeking to operate in the industry–academia domain on a small—practically manageable—scale.


Transdisciplinary Energy efficiency Heat integration Pinch analysis Food factory Sustainable manufacturing 



We wish to gratefully acknowledge and thank the EPSRC and Nestlé UK Ltd for their assistance and support in funding this research as part of the Engineering Doctorate on Sustainability for Engineering and Energy Systems (EngD SEES) programme at the University of Surrey. We would also like to thank three anonymous reviewers and two guest editors for their suggestions and comments on previous versions.


  1. Aeberhard A, Rist S (2009) Transdisciplinary co-production of knowledge in the development of organic agriculture in Switzerland. Ecol Econ 68:1171–1181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arla Foods (2014) Arla Foods Zero Carbon Dairy, United Kingdom (online). Accessed 10 Nov 2014
  3. Bergmann M, Brohmann B, Hoffmann E, Loibl C, Rehaag R, Schamm E, Vob J-P (2005) Quality criteria of transdisciplinary research—a guide for the formative evaluation of research projects (online). Accessed 17 Jul 2015Google Scholar
  4. Boon WPC, Chappin MMH, Perenboom J (2014) Balancing divergence and convergence in transdisciplinary research teams. Environ Sci Policy 40:57–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cargill (2012) 2012 Corporate sustainability report—our responsibility in a changing world (online). Accessed 01 Aug 2013
  6. Choi BCK, Pack AWP (2006) Multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity in health research, services, education and policy: 1. Definitions, objectives, and evidence of effectiveness. Clin Invest Med 6:351–364Google Scholar
  7. DEFRA (2006) Food Industry Sustainability Strategy (FISS) (online). Accessed 01 Nov 2014
  8. Deloitte (2013) 2013 Global survey of R&D Tax Incentives (online). Accessed 10 Nov 2014
  9. ECOVER (2013) Facts about our Factory (online). Accessed 10 Nov 2014
  10. Elliot SJ (2011) The transdisciplinary knowledge journey: a suggested framework for research at the water-health nexus. Curr Opin Environ Sustain 3:527–530CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Frito-Lay (2011) Frito-Lay Unveils ‘near net zero’ manufacturing facility (online). Accessed 10 Nov 2014
  12. GDA (2014) The five Key Nutrients (online). Accessed 01 Nov 2013
  13. Gordon RM, Corcoran JR, Bartley-Daniele P, Sklenar D, Sutton PR, Cartwright F (2013) A transdisciplinary team approach to pain management in inpatient health care settings. Am Soc Pain Manag Nurs 1:426–435Google Scholar
  14. Gray B (2008) Enhancing transdisciplinary research through collaborative leadership. Am J Prev Med 35:124–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Harris F, Lyon F (2013) Transdisciplinary environmental research: building trust across professional cultures. Environ Sci Policy 31:109–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. ISO (International Organization for Standardization) (2006) ISO 14040:2006 Environmental management - Life cycle assessment - Principles and framework (online). Accessed 18 Aug 2015
  17. Jawahir IS, Badurdeen F, Goldsby T, Iyengar D (2009) Assessment of product and process sustainability: towards developing metrics for sustainable manufacturing. In: NIST Workshop on Sustainable ManufacturingGoogle Scholar
  18. Jayal AD, Badurdeen F, Dillon OW, Jawahir IS (2010) Sustainable manufacturing: modelling and optimisation challenges at the product, process and system levels. CIRP J Manufact Sci Technol 2:144–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kemp IC (2007) Pinch analysis and process integration. A user guide on process integration for efficient use of energy. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  20. Klein JT (2008) Evaluation of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research—a literature review. Am J Prev Med 35:S116–S123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kraft (2011) Our progress in 2011—Creating a more delicious world (online). Accessed 29 Aug 2013
  22. Lang DJ, Wiek A, Bergmann M, Stauffacher M, Martens P, Moll P, Swilling M, Thomas CJ (2012) Transdisciplinary research in sustainability science: practice, principles, and challenges. Sustain Sci Supp 1:25–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Linnhoff B, Townsend DW, Boland D, Hewitt GF, Thomas BEA, Guy AR, Marshland RH (1982) A user guide on process integration for the efficient use of energy. Rugby, UKGoogle Scholar
  24. ManuFuture (2004) A vision for 2020—assuring the future of manufacturing in Europe (online). Accessed 01 Nov 2014
  25. MAS (2008) Sustainable manufacturing—manufacturing for sustainability (online). Accessed 01 Nov 2014
  26. MAS Intimates Thurulie (Theguardian) (2011) Building a greener future (online). Accessed 10 Nov 2014
  27. Mattor K, Betsill M, Huayhuaca C, Huber-Stearns H, Jedd T, Sternlieb F, Bixler P, Luizza M, Cheng AS (2014) Transdisciplinary research on environmental governance: a view from the inside. Environ Sci Policy 42:90–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Max-Neef MA (2005) Foundations of transdisciplinarity. Ecol Econ 53:5–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Miah JH, Griffiths A, McNeill R, Poonaji I, Martin R, Morse S, Yang A, Sadhukhan J (2014a) Creating an environmentally sustainable food factory: a case study of the Lighthouse project at Nestlé. Procedia CIRP. 26:229–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Miah JH, Griffiths A, McNeill R, Poonaji I, Martin R, Yang A, Morse S (2014b) Heat integration in processes with diverse production lines: a comprehensive framework and an application in food industry. Appl Energy 132:452–464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mitchell CA (2009) Quality in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary postgraduate research and its supervision: ideas for good practice (online). Accessed 14 Jul 2015
  32. Mitchell CA, Fam D, Abeysuriya K (2013) Transitioning to sustainable sanitation: a transdisciplinary pilot project of urine diversion (online). Accessed 14 Jul 2015
  33. Mitev N, Venters W (2009) Reflexive evaluation of an academic–industry research collaboration: can mode 2 management research be achieved? J Manage Stud 46:733–754CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Muhar A, Visser J, Vreda J (2013) Experiences from establishing structured inter- and transdisciplinary doctoral programs in sustainability: a comparison of two cases in South Africa and Austria. J Clean Prod 61:122–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Nestlé UK Ltd (2013) Nestlé UK & Ireland creating shared value plan update (online). Accessed 10 Jul 2014
  36. OECD (1998) Interdisciplinarity in science and technology. Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry, OECD, Paris, FranceGoogle Scholar
  37. OECD (2009) Sustainable manufacturing and eco-innovation – framework, practices and measurement (online) Accessed 14 Jul 2015
  38. OECD (2011) Sustainable Manufacturing Toolkit (online).,3746,en_21571361_47075996_47076535_1_1_1_1,00.html. Accessed 01 Jul 2014
  39. Orecchini F, Valititti V, Vitali G (2012) Industry and academia for a transition towards sustainability: advancing sustainability science through university–business collaborations. Sustain Sci 7:57–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pepsico (2012) Pepsico performance with purpose—sustainability report 2011/2012 (online). Accessed 29 Aug 2013
  41. Renault-Nissan (Middle East online) (2012) Renault to inaugurate giant Tangier plant (online). Accessed 10 Nov 2014
  42. Scholz R (2011) Environmental literacy in science and society: from knowledge to decisions. Cambridge University Press, UKCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Scholz R, Marks D (2001) Learning about transdisciplinarity: where are we? Where have we been? Where should we go?. In: Thompson Klein J, Grossenbacher-Mansuy W, Haberli R, Bill A, Scholz RW, Welti M (eds). Transdisciplinarity: joint problem solving among science, technology, and society: an effective way for managing complexity. Birkhauser, Basel, pp 236–252Google Scholar
  44. Scholz RW, Stauffacher M (2007) Managing transition in clusters: area development negotiations as a tool for sustaining traditional industries in a Swiss prealpine region. Environ Plan A 39:2518–2539CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Scholz RW, Roy AH, Brand FS, Hellums DT, Ulrich AE (2014) Sustainable phosphorus management—a global transdisciplinary roadmap. Springer, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Thompson KJ, Grossenbacher-Mansuy W, Häberli R, Bill A, Scholz RW, Welti M (2001) Transdisciplinarity: Joint problem solving among science, technology, and society. An effective way for managing complexity. Birkhäuser, BaselGoogle Scholar
  47. Totzer T, Sedlacek S, Knoflacher M (2011) Designing the future—a reflection of a transdisciplinary case study in Austria. Futures. 43:840–852CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. UNEP (2009) Design for sustainability: a step-by-step approach (online). Accessed 10 Jul 2014
  49. UoS (University of Surrey) (2014) Sustainability for engineering & energy systems (online). Accessed 12 Nov 2014
  50. Wickson F, Carew AL, Russell AW (2006) Transdisciplinary research: characteristics, quandaries and quality. Futures 38:1046–1059CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. H. Miah
    • 1
    • 2
  • A. Griffiths
    • 1
  • R. McNeill
    • 3
  • I. Poonaji
    • 4
  • R. Martin
    • 5
  • S. Morse
    • 2
  • A. Yang
    • 6
  • J. Sadhukhan
    • 2
  1. 1.Nestlé UK LtdNewcastle upon TyneUK
  2. 2.Centre for Environmental Strategy (CES), Faculty of Engineering and Physical SciencesUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK
  3. 3.Group EngineeringNestlé UK LtdYorkUK
  4. 4.Group TechnicalNestlé UK LtdGatwickUK
  5. 5.Technical and ProductionNestlé UK LtdYorkUK
  6. 6.Department of Chemical and Process Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Physical SciencesUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK

Personalised recommendations