How Mechatronics work

what is mechatronics and robotics engineering and what is mechatronics system
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Published Date:03-08-2017
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Chapter 1 Introduction 1 2 David Bradley and David W. Russell 1.1 Background Since 1989, the Mechatronic Forum conferences have provided practitioners and educators working in the field of mechatronics with the opportunity to meet and discuss not only technical developments, but also aspects of course design and delivery. As mechatronics has developed as a subject, and as more and more students are exposed to the underlying concepts through courses at undergraduate and master’s levels 1–3, there is an increasing requirement to provide both students and practitioners with access to examples of functioning systems in order to reinforce the concepts and structures which underpin the mechatronic concept. This book essentially arose from discussions at the Mechatronics Forum conferences, and in particular at Penn State Great Valley in 2006 where the education workshops made it clear that despite the growth in the number and availability of mechatronic textbooks, there was a need for something which drew attention to issues associated with and impacting on the design and implementation of mechatronic systems rather than the underlying technologies. The aim of the book is therefore to provide, through the medium of case studies by leading practitioners in the field, an insight for all interested in the mechatronic concept and the ways in which mechatronic systems and the associated educational programmes are designed, developed and implemented 4–7. 1.2 What Is Mechatronics? As a discipline, mechatronics is faced with the problem that though it has the evolutionary path suggested by Figure 1.1, it does not represent a single technological domain, but rather the integration of a number of such domains at 1 University of Abertay Dundee, UK 2 Penn State Great Valley, USA 2 D. Bradley, and D.W. Russell the systems level. This means that there is no single, clear and agreed upon definition of mechatronics around which practitioners and educators can align themselves and develop courses and programmes. Indeed, as John Millbank, one of the contributing authors has commented 8: By definition then, mechatronics is not a subject, science or technology per se – it is instead to be regarded as a philosophy – a fundamental way of looking at and doing things, and by its very nature requires a unified approach to its delivery. This perspective is illustrated in part by Figure 1.2 which places mechatronics at the centre of a network of engineering functions ranging from aesthetics to marketing. In reviewing this network it is, however, important to recognise and understand that mechatronics is not solely about technology but relies on people, and in particular on the interaction between individuals to make it work. Information Technology & Software Electro- Mechanical Mechanisation mechanical Mechatronics Engineering Systems Electrical Electronics Technologies Fig. 1.1 The evolution of mechatronics 9–12 Desi Desig gn n for for Manag Manage ement ment Manufactur Manufacture e & & Assembl Assembly y M Manu anufac fact tur uring ing Ma Mar rk ke et tin ing g Te Tech chno nolo logy gy Mat Mate eria rialls s El Elec ectr tronics onics Co Conc ncep ept tu ual al De Des siign gn Syst Systems ems Qu Qua alliit ty, y, Standa Standar rd ds & s & Ergonom Ergonomiics cs Mec Mech hanic anical al Safe Safety ty Softw Softwa are re Engin Engineerin eering g Aest Aest Aesth Aesth hetic hetic e eti tics cs s s R Re equ quiir rem emen ent ts s Ana Anally ys sis is Ind Ind Ind Indu u u us s s st t t tr r r riiiia a a allll Work Workiin ng g Educat Educatiio on n Pr Pra ac ct tiic ce es s De De De Desi si si sig g g gn n n n & T & Tr rai ain niing ng Fig. 1.2 Mechatronics and some of its related domains Introduction 3 Mechatronics can therefore be considered as being, in essence, a systems approach to the design, development and implementation of complex engineering systems which takes as its foundation the transfer of functionality from the physical domain to the information domain. The strength of the approach is that it supports the understanding of the nature of the embedded complexity by ensuring that the different engineering and other disciplines are considered together from the start of the design process. A mechatronic approach to system design and development therefore has much in common with the Concurrent Engineering model of Figure 1.3 in that it emphasises parallelism and implies an integrated path from concept to implementation in which there is a balance between all activities within the design process. This parallelism is important as new products traditionally generate the most revenue early in their life cycles, particularly if the products offer new features not present in their competitor’s products. As the product matures and competitors enter the market, profit erosion will begin to occur as the competition for available customers increases. It is therefore important that products are designed and produced on time, and that production rates are rapidly ramped up to mature levels. Any delays in the release of the product to the market will translate into lost sales that will not be recovered over the life of the product. Quality Design for testability Conceptual Service & design Support Design for Requirements Manufacture Embodiment Manufacture Product Definition Marketing Manufacturing processes Industrial design Interface design Fig. 1.3 Concurrent engineering work flow As indicated by Figure 1.4 13, 14, a key element of this profile is the need to convince the pragmatists that the system is of value to them once the innovators and early adopters have opened up the market. The introduction of a mechatronic approach to technology integration allied to a concurrent engineering development strategy has resulted in products which are inherently more capable, and hence more attractive to users than their predecessors at reducing real costs. 4 D. Bradley, and D.W. Russell 100% 100% INNOVATORS EARLY PRAGMATISTS SCEPTICS INNOVATORS EARLY PRAGMATISTS SCEPTICS ADOPTERS ADOPTERS MAIN MARKET MAIN MARKET Time Time (a) (b) Fig. 1.4 Profiles of technology adoption and market penetration: (a) adoption, and (b) market penetration 1.2.1 Mechatronics and Design Innovation In recent years, products and systems of all types from domestic appliances to vehicles have become increasingly complex. This complexity is in turn defined by the combination of local and distributed processing power with mechanical design, and is driven by the increased availability of such processing power allied to enhanced communications strategies and protocols. Thus, at one level a system such as the Wii games console 15 utilises three-axis accelerometers to record motion and to translate that motion into an on-screen response by means of a Bluetooth 16 communications link. At another level, a modern car will integrate multiple systems ranging from engine management to environmental controls for driver and passenger comfort, and potentially even autonomous navigation 17. 3 Fig. 1.5 University of Utah Integrated Neural Interface chip These developments are supported by the increasing availability of ‘smart 4 components’ such as the SunSPOT system from Sun Microsystems 18, which in turn facilitate the construction of larger systems utilising the embedded processing power of their distributed elements. The increasing availability of system elements 3 Courtesy of the University of Utah 4 Sun Small Programmable Object Technology Relative percentage of customers Market penetrationIntroduction 5 such as SunSPOTs and RFID tags is resulting in increasingly complex systems in which the ability to analyse and interpret the data then becomes the major source of added value. While mechatronics has been historically associated with system products such as vehicles and manufacturing technologies such as robots, these same mechatronic concepts are now appearing in applications such as healthcare. Considering this latter area in more detail, developments in prosthetics are resulting in artificial limbs of increasing capability. These ultimately have the potential to be linked to a neural interface such as that of Figure 1.5 19, making them capable of decoding nerve impulses and returning a feedback signal to the user to achieve more realistic control than is currently possible. In physiotherapy, the development of systems such as MANUS 20, 21, Locomat 22 and NeXOS 23 aim to support physiotherapists working with a wide range of individuals and conditions. At the systems level, the development of telecare systems based on a distributed network of sensors to monitor individual behaviour within their home environment to support independent living is attracting increasing interest, particularly when combined with advanced analysis techniques to interpret such behaviour 24, 25. 1.2.2 Mechatronics and Manufacturing Engineers from most disciplines will quite understandably associate mechatronics with robotics and factory systems. Systems that move, machine and assemble “hard” substances are really only classifiable as ‘mechatronic’ to the degree that they contain elements of reasoning and agility. A flipper paddle on a production line barely counts as a robot As manufacturing systems have evolved across the world despite the plentiful labour supply, the inclusion of virtually unattended automation components is growing. Areas of mechatronic involvement in manufacturing include assembly, machining, inspection, dangerous material handling and disassembly. The modern automobile contains many of the same technologies, including all- wheel drive and electronically-actuated fuel injection. Since the inception of the production line illustrated in Figure 1.6 26, 27, automobile assembly plants have led the way in robotic painting, welding and heavy material handling. 6 D. Bradley, and D.W. Russell Fig. 1.6 The evolution of automotive assembly lines With the introduction of the ‘make to order’ paradigm, manufacturing is now far more sophisticated than simply mass producing items for inventory. Buyers now want to customise everything and to do so at almost the unit level. This has necessitated an agility of operations that was previously unimagined. Manufacturing groups can now be created 28 ‘on-the-fly’ in response to job specifications, which may involve autonomous work-cells moving into varying positions as part of a dynamic collaboration. In addition to containing many degrees of freedom, each manufacturing cell may also be multi-faceted and provide a variety of job functions on a piece by piece basis. For example, a unit that is customarily used as a gripper to move completed work-pieces from assembly to a conveyor may also from time to time insert a component, and all within the same production run. Because of the combinational complexity of such systems, the scheduling of flexible architecture work groups has attracted the interest of methodologies that include game theory 29 and self-organisation 30, 31. The problems associated with flexible groupings are manifold. Any operation that involves autonomous vehicular movement must allow for unobtrusive inactive parking, dynamic path and scene analysis, unit return and recovery strategy, and self reporting of malfunctions and maintenance intervals. All of these are commonplace mechatronic system issues. The pharmaceutical and power generation industries are also heavily dependent on mechatronic devices to provide skilled operations in environments where it is either unsafe or inconvenient for humans to work. This includes the handling of toxic and radioactive materials and maintenance in heavily polluted atmospheric conditions. Automated inspection systems provide 100% quality control and dramatically outperform humans in such boring and repetitive tasks. While mechatronic systems are an obvious area of interesting research, they are also gaining acceptance and popularity in manufacturing processes and are becoming an integral part of a greener and more sustainable industrial world. Along these lines, there is a current trend to design commodity items such as cell phones for disassembly and component reuse. Manufacturers are usually concerned with securely fastening units together, which consequently makes for Introduction 7 safer use but condemns the product to the landfill. By careful design for remanufacturing, it will become economically feasible as well as environmentally prudent to produce goods that are truly recyclable with no loss in quality. Mechatronics will feature heavily in this arena 1.2.3 Mechatronics and Education In the development of mechatronics education, the concern in course design has always been that of achieving an appropriate balance between providing the necessary depth of understanding of core technologies and the ability to develop solutions which integrate those technologies. This may be compared with a subject based approach to engineering education where the emphasis is on ensuring a depth of understanding within the subject area. The education of a mechatronics engineer thus has to place a greater emphasis on the ability to work across and between individual areas of technology. This is not, however, to suggest that a mechatronics engineer does not have to have a depth of knowledge in certain specialist areas, rather that such depth is balanced by an understanding and appreciation of the contributions of other areas of technology as is suggested by Figure 1.7. Mechatronics Overlap Engineer Subject Area Subject Area (a) (b) Fig. 1.7 Balance of technical expertise for specialist and mechatronics educated engineers: (a) specialist education, and (b) mechatronics education The achievement of a balanced programme of mechatronics education must therefore ensure that individuals are provided with sufficient depth in at least one area of technology in order to allow them to make an effective contribution to that area, whilst ensuring the breadth of understanding necessary to give them credibility in regard to other subject specialists. The key challenge then facing mechatronics course designers is that of ensuring that there is an appropriate balance between depth and breadth within the course, as well as providing opportunities to enable students to practice integration. Depth Depth8 D. Bradley, and D.W. Russell Though mechatronics emphasises integration, it may also be perceived as encompassing a number of themes such as design, manufacturing or automation. In relation to course development, the choice of theme is generally dictated by a number of factors including: • the backgrounds and interests of the staff involved in teaching; • industrial requirements, both locally and nationally; • student perceptions and interests; • availability of resources, particularly human and financial; • research activity. While it is unlikely that any one of these considerations will dominate course development to the exclusion of others, any one of these factors may well be the defining influence for a particular programme or course. Generally, however, they will all play some role in determining the structure of any course. For instance, resource implications will often mean that teaching of specialist material will require that mechatronic engineers are incorporated as part of a larger group of subject specialists for this purpose, with the courses then being structured to meet the needs of the subject specialists rather than the mechatronics students. Also, the increasing modularisation of programmes can tend to mitigate against the ability to introduce the necessary integrating material, particularly where modules are seen as having to be complete and entire within themselves. In light of the above challenges, how might the designers of a mechatronics course respond? What is clear is that they are faced with a number of questions including: • Should a theme be chosen or should it emerge as a result of the local expertise and enthusiasms? • How are the integration aspects of mechatronics to be introduced and managed? • How are external requirements, as for instance the Bologna Agreement in Europe 32, 33, to be managed? • What is the local market for graduates, and is the proposed course going to meet those requirements? Mechatronics has always suffered to some degree from an identity crisis both within the academic community and elsewhere, and indeed this is likely to continue to be the case given the diversity of approaches and emphasis that are found within the community. At the same time, there is a need for graduate engineers with the particular integration skills that are provided by a mechatronics education. The challenge facing mechatronics course designers is therefore that of achieving an effective balance between the requirements for detailed knowledge and engendering of the ability to act in an integrating role in a wide range of engineering environments. The achievement of this balance is itself subject to a whole range of pressures ranging from the rapid advance of technology to external factors impacting on Introduction 9 course management and design such as the moves to implement sustainable systems or increase student mobility. The underlying precepts presented here will, however, remain as a constant for course designers and developers. 1.3 Mechatronics and a Sustainable Future It is clear that the future development of mechatronics will need to be integrated with the need to meet and respond to a range of challenges in areas including energy systems, transport, health care, medicine and manufacturing. Indeed, it can be argued that the achievement of sustainable systems in these and other areas will depend on the ability to integrate a mechatronic approach to system design and development into corresponding developments in areas such as materials technology. This will impact not only on specific products, but on the ways they are made. This will in turn cause present considerations of design for manufacture and assembly which are often in conflict with the requirements of design for disassembly or maintenance to be brought into question. Consider, for instance, the use of snap assembly methods for joining components. These are easy to assemble but can make access problematic without the destruction of the item in question. 1.3.1 Sustainability In the 1987 report of the Brundtland Commission, Our Common Future, sustainable development was defined as 34: Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of 5 future generations to meet their own needs. In the UK, the Department of Trade and Industry has stated that 35: Sustainable development is about achieving economic growth, environmental protection and social progress at the same time. The paper A Way with Waste from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) states that 36: Sustainable waste management means using material resources efficiently to cut down on the amount of waste we produce. And where waste is produced, dealing with it in a way that actively contributes to the economic, social and environmental goals of sustainable development. 5 Formerly the World Commission on Environment and Development and chaired by the then Prime Minister of Norway, Gro Harlem Brundtland 10 D. Bradley, and D.W. Russell There is increasing recognition of the importance of environmental sustainability to industry, as reflected in a number of indices that have been developed to try to express levels of sustainability in product development. This is reflected in legislation which seeks to control the environmental impact of products through the regulation and control of their disposal and the management of the associated waste materials. Within the EU, some of these key legislative elements introduced, or in the process of being introduced are 37: • waste from electrical and electronic equipment 38; • restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment 39; • end of life vehicles 40; • packaging and packaging waste 41. Other legislation seeks to control the production of pollutants such as greenhouse gases, as for instance the EU Emissions Trading Scheme which came , into being on January 1 2005 42, 43. This brings about the possibility of trading in ‘pollution certificates’, such as the Clean Development Method certification under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) 44–46. All of the above lead to an increasing recognition that there is a requirement to adopt a more holistic approach to the design and use of a wide range of products and systems, and that whole life considerations need to be taken into account as part of the design process 47–49. This has lead to the concept of Life Cycle Assessment and the ISO 14040 50 series of standards which sets out 4 key elements for consideration, namely: • goal and scope definition; • impact assessment; • inventory of extractions & emissions; • interpretation. Despite the considerations above, however, it cannot be said that environmentally friendly strategies and approaches to whole life cycle design have been widely adopted. Indeed, in his keynote address to the ICED03 conference, Dr Tim McAloone of the Technical University of Denmark commented that: There are now a number of centres of excellence in EcoDesign practice, both in industry and academia, where tools and methods have crystallised into positive changes to the environmental performance of the product under development. However, there are even more instances where the tools and methods developed fail to be integrated into real life product development, due to shortcomings of either academia or industry whilst developing the tools, or when attempting their integration. There is indeed a range of activity worldwide with subjects under investigation including 51–55: Introduction 11 • environmental sustainability; • EcoDesign; • EcoDesign tools; • design for sustainability; • environmental technology; • lifecycle assessment; • environmentally conscious manufacturing; • environmentally friendly product design; • environmentally friendly products. Industry has taken the lead in some of these areas as for instance in the work undertaken in Germany by the Verein der Automobilindustrie 56 (VDA) and through the Blue Angel programme 57. In Italy, Fiat instituted the FARE (Fiat Auto Recycling) programme 58 in 1992, which by 1997 had 251 recycling centres while in Sweden. Volvo has developed their EPI (Environmental Product Information) system 59 as a means of informing users as to the environmental impact of their cars. Similar strategies have been followed by many other car manufacturers. In other areas, companies such as Dell 60 and HP 61 have instituted major environmental management programmes in association with their product range. There have also been attempts to develop tools to support environmentally friendly design, the best known of which is probably that of Boothroyd & Dewhurst that uses the MET (Materials, Energy, Toxicity) points system developed by TNO in Holland 62. 1.3.2 Mechatronics and Sustainability As suggested, mechatronics should have a considerable role in achieving sustainable products and systems. Some of the potential areas where mechatronics is likely to have a major impact are outlined below and some will be considered in more detail in subsequent chapters. Design In relation to developments mechatronics and the design process, approaches such 6 as EcoDesign encompass a wide range of issues which will impact upon the general mechatronic concept, particularly the means of achieving sustainable outcomes in ways which support trade-offs between system elements. Thus, the adoption of a manufacturing process which has associated with it slightly increased levels of waste may support actions elsewhere in the product lifecycle which lead to an overall reduction in waste production. 6 Also Green Design, Sustainable Design and Environmentally Friendly Design, etc. 12 D. Bradley, and D.W. Russell Transport This is likely to be an area where mechatronics will significantly influence design, development and operation. For instance: Rail – The further development of tilting trains, active suspensions, driven and steered wheelsets and traction and braking control are all likely to feature to some degree in future train systems, along with enhanced drive technologies and controller strategies 63. Other potential areas of development include high-speed trains and the use of maglev technologies 64, 65. Road Transport – The move towards hybrid vehicles and the use of fuel cell technology 66, 67 as well as on-board systems for driver assistance and management support a wide range of potential developments. Developments at the vehicle level would then be supplemented and supported by enhanced traffic management and routing systems that would look at route loading and capacity to optimise journey times and minimise pollution. Aircraft – Aircraft, the growth of air transport and the impact on the environment is undoubtedly one of the most contentious areas in which mechatronics is likely to play a role. Issues include the design of aircraft that are quieter, more fuel efficient and have a lower environmental impact than those currently in use 68– 71. This shift is seen with the introduction of the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. More radical developments and concepts include the ‘blended wing’ 72, 73 and enhanced engine technologies. Energy Technologies The deployment and use of alternative energy sources such as wind and wave power 74, 75, the introduction into the home of micro combined heat and power (microCHP) systems 76, heat pumps 77 and fuel cells as well as new generations of appliances and energy management options within the home will all be influenced by mechatronic approaches to their design, operation and control. Manufacturing Mechatronics will continue to support the development of advanced manufacturing systems involving autonomously reconfigurable machine tools 78 and dynamic decision making 79 as an integral part of the process. Such developments will in turn support the implementation of production facilities that are more energy efficient and have lower environmental impact than those currently in use. Introduction 13 Health This is an area where mechatronics might be expected to have a major impact. Specific instances include the development of enhanced and intelligent prostheses for both the upper and lower limbs 80–82, the introduction of systems to support the rehabilitation of a range of conditions 83, 84, the provision of new surgical methods and techniques involving the deployment of robotic systems and telecare, telemedicine and telehealth strategies based around enhanced sensors, networking and data analysis 85. In each of these and related areas, the deployment of a mechatronic approach is likely to be key in achieving robust, reliable and effective systems. Materials The choice of materials is becoming increasingly important in relation to the design and operation of systems of all types, as for instance in the increased use of composite materials in vehicles such as cars and aircraft as well as in consumer products. The provision of new types of materials has itself made it possible to develop these products in a way which supports the general mechatronic concepts of integration at the systems level 86–88. Economics, Standards and Legislation Issues such as those raised by the Kyoto Protocol and the subsequent Bali Action Plan 89, 90, and in the UK by the Stern Report 91 as well as legislation coming out of Europe and elsewhere and including topics such as carbon trading will all have an impact on the way in which mechatronic systems are designed and implemented. 1.4 The Book As indicated, the aim of the book is to provide mechatronics practitioners and students with added insight into the way in which mechatronic systems have evolved and developed through the medium of case studies. These studies encompass a range of approaches to and views on mechatronics covering the design process and sustainability, the need to involve the system users in the process of implementation, the importance of the interface, machine intelligence, manufacturing technology, robotics, medical applications and course design. Each case study is written by an individual or group of individuals who have been involved with mechatronic systems for a number of years. In many cases, this involvement has been at a number of levels incorporating research, implementation and course design. The book therefore provides a unique insight into the world of the mechatronic engineer and supports the wider understanding 14 D. Bradley, and D.W. Russell of the subject as an approach to the design, development and implementation of complex systems. Following the introduction of Chapter 1, Chapter 2 considers the question of sustainability and how the issues arising in this area are likely to impact the design and implementation of future mechatronic systems. Chapter 3 then provides an example of how CAD tools can be used to support ‘3D-thinking’ in relation to the design and implementation of mechatronic systems. Chapters 4 and 5 then provide specific examples as to how the mechatronics approach can be and has been applied to different industrial systems. Chapter 6 looks at the impact that mechatronics has had and, still is having on the design and operation of motor vehicles, and shows how mechatronic systems and sub-systems are increasingly being integrated at all levels within vehicles. Chapter 7 looks at the application of mechatronics to sub-sea vehicles, the requirements for operating in harsh environments and the use of virtual environments in design, simulation and testing. Chapter 8 examines how a mechatronics approach can be used to support the development and implementation of a remotely operated system, whilst Chapter 9 considers the deployment of machine intelligence and its implementation in a particular context. Chapters 10 and 11 consider the growing role of mechatronics in medicine and healthcare by looking at applications in surgery and prosthetic design. Chapters 12 and 13 consider the development of mechatronics education programmes and the design of such programmes. Chapter 14 provides a retrospective view of the early development of mechatronics within the aerospace industry and the challenges to its adoption. The book then concludes with Chapter 15, which attempts to provide an outlook that identifies and establishes the future challenges that mechatronics will be required to meet. References 1. Bradley D (2004) What is Mechatronics and Why Teach it? Intl. J. Electrical Engineering Education, 41(4):275–291 2. 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In her landmark, but at the time (1962) controversial book, Silent Spring 1, Rachel Carson drew to the world’s attention the impact of pesticide use on wildlife, opening the debate on environmental degradation. This was followed a decade later by The Limits to Growth 4, an equally controversial study on behalf 2 of the Club of Rome. 3 However, it was not until the Brundtland Report appeared in 1987 that issues of sustainable development began to be taken seriously. These issues were taken up by the business world with respect to: How the business community can adapt and contribute to the crucial goal of sustainable development which combines the objectives of environmental protection and economic growth. This occurred under the auspices of the Business Charter for Sustainable Development in the publication Changing Course 5. The aim of the present chapter is to provide an introduction to ‘applied’ sustainable approaches to technological development through innovation designed 4 to secure ‘triple bottom line’ outcomes . 1 Technology Transfer Consultant, UK 2 Other notable commentary from around that period was by Commoner in The Closing Circle 2, and Dubos and Ward in Only One Earth 3. 3 See Chapter 1 4 The triple bottom line is defined as: society depends on the economy and the economy depends on the global ecosystem, whose health represents the bottom line 6. 20 J.H. Millbank 2.2 The Interpretation of Meaning for Sustainability and Innovation The terms innovation and sustainability have become widely appropriated in academic literature as well as by the popular press to convey an imperative related to future economic, social and environmental wellbeing. Moreover, these terms are very often juxtaposed to imply change from the status quo to more conducive conditions. Unfortunately, in this context they are amorphous and consequently their definitions have come to mean different things to different people. For example, the business community may regard innovation as a means by which to secure longer term sustainable commercial advantage and leverage whereas societal interpretations will, in general, be wholly concerned with affecting change leading to stability and global longevity. Understandably, therefore, there is a need to adopt an interpretation for both sustainability and innovation which in the case- based approach of the present book meets the needs of science, technology and engineering practitioners as applied to mechatronic system development. 5 The (UK) Department of Trade and Industry offered a simplistic and rather anodyne definition of innovation as 7: The successful exploitation of new ideas, products, materials, techniques and processes. 6 In contrast, the Brundtland definition of sustainability is more emphatic. However, for the purpose of this discussion, both definitions remain inconclusive. Therefore, an attempt to follow the more rigorous interpretations offered by the Council for Science and Technology 8 for innovation, and Charter for sustainable innovation 9 provides the basis for delineating the consumption to contribution debate. Innovation is the process by which ideas and knowledge are exploited for business purposes. It encompasses not only the creation of a new product, process or service, but also the systems, processes, organisations, structures and all other aspects of a company’s existing or future competitive edge such as distribution, marketing, branding and indeed the creation of a brand new market. The process draws on a range of intellectual and other inputs including knowledge of markets, customers, competitors, science, engineering and technology (CST). Sustainable Innovation is a process where sustainability considerations (environmental, social, and financial) are integrated into company systems from idea generation through to research and development (R&D) and commercialisation. This applies to products, services and technologies as well as new business and organisational models 9. 5 Now remodelled as the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform, whose innovation home page defines the process as ‘the successful exploitation of new ideas’; a further dilution of meaning. The original DTI online document has been deleted; the archive of which is reported to be with the British Library. 6 Chapter 1 Op. cit. Consumption to Contribution: Sustainable Technological Development Through Innovation 21 Thus, a context is established from which to explore the contribution that mechatronic engineering and technology practitioners can provide towards reducing consumption of finite resources, selecting appropriate technologies, ensuring minimum energy usage, eliminating unnecessary waste, extending reliability and endurance, avoiding undesirable duplication, future proofing, end- of-life recovery of component stocks, reducing/negating pollution and toxicity and simplifying functionality through the rationalisation of complexity. Mechatronics is a synergistic discipline which seeks to secure integrated solutions. Under these conditions, a more holistic approach to creating ‘sustainable’ products, processes and systems can result, and thereby engage a perception that: The whole is more than the sum of the parts – and each part is more than a fraction of the whole 10. For mechatronic applications, there are several instances where this philosophy may be seen to already be making an impact including: • combining electroencephalography (EEG) with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) 11; • control software integration 12 for investigations into epilepsy 13; • the Combined Active and Passive Safety System (CAPS) for automotive applications under development by Bosch and others 14, 15; • micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) arrays offering the possibility of thousands of individual components to function in isolation or combined to enable complex actions 16–18. 2.3 Deconstructing Technological Innovation as a Driving Force for Sustainable Engineered Systems Innovation, as such, is regarded as both a cause and solution to much of the structural, environmental and social impact issues surrounding economic development 19. Yet, it is argued that technological innovation lies at the heart of attempts to secure sustainable ‘engineered’ system outcomes for longer term social and economic gain and in turn should be appropriated to advance environmental sustainability. This contrasts with systems innovation where broader concerns are primarily directed towards organisational, architectural, socio-political, and socio-technical issues within the sustainability framework 20. 7 In recent years, linear models of innovation have been largely discredited 22 as inadequate descriptors for differentiating the various and often complex processes in translating concepts to a marketable conclusion. While the 7 As a sequential and unidirectional process having five functional phases comprising: idea generation invention R&D application diffusion 21