Supply chain innovation


In recent years, supply chains have suffered many disruptions caused by geo-political conflicts, the global pandemic, the changing environment, and the depletion of natural resources due to human-induced climate change. Supply chains are in urgent need of reform to sustain their operations and to respond to such challenges.

Research is essential in helping industries and other sectors adapt to new scenarios and build resilience. Professor Lenny Koh pioneers the low carbon supply chain life cycle analysis research. This research produced several generations of a cloud-hosted Supply Chain Environmental Analysis Tool helping industry and policy makers cut their carbon emissions. SMEs and large corporates (e.g., Rolls-Royce) have been using the tool to measure and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Professor Lenny Koh

The Supply Chain Environmental Analysis Tool developed throughout the years, adding capabilities relative to the progress of technologies and industries.

SCEnAT process flowchart.

Professor Lenny Koh leads a team of researchers to develop new technology and models to understand the challenges of future supply chains and their ability to respond to changes in legislation and customer requirements.

The team has outstanding knowledge of sustainability assessment methods. Such capabilities enable the team to propose innovative solutions for industries across multiple sectors and support them in making sustainable decisions based on evidence, encouraging a circular economy approach, carbon reduction, building resource efficiency and resilient supply chains of the future worldwide.

Examples of methodology

  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Modelling: Computational Fluid Dynamics Simulation, Network Modelling, Spatial Life Cycle Modelling based on GIS, SimaPro, Systematic review
  • Data analysis: AI, BDA, Economic, Meta-Analysis Social Network, Spatial Correlation Assessment, Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Statistical, Techno-Economic Analysis, Energy and Exergy
  • Combustion Analysis
  • Machine Learning (PCA, clustering, etc.)
  • Time Series Forecasting
  • Environmental Footprinting

The above methods have been applied to multiple sectors. The examples of the team’s projects include the following topics:

  • Innovation of energy systems such as but not limited to heat pumps, renewable power plants, and geothermal power plants
  • The role of hydrogen in the transition of UK industry to Net Zero
  • Overhead line electrification, energy efficiency and embedded carbon in the rail sector
  • Sustainability of steel railway
  • Recycling pathway for plastic components in aircraft
  • Low carbon cement production
  • The impact of Enhanced Rock Weathering (ERW) as a technology for carbon dioxide removal
  • Reduction of plastic and food waste
  • The improvement of the relationships within the food system


Energy and technology

The innovation of energy systems is crucial for businesses to adapt to legislation changes, customer requirements and environmental conditions.

The deployment of low-carbon hydrogen has the potential to decarbonise the industry and bring benefits across all sectors. The team has taken part in projects analysing the role of hydrogen in the transition of the UK industry to Net Zero, specifically hydrogen production; its implementation in the glass industry as part of the UK plan to decarbonise the foundation industries; and the resiliency, sustainability, and circularity of hydrogen supply chains.

The applications of other alternative energy sources, such as heat pumps, biomass, geothermal, solar and wind, have also been assessed.

To significantly lower the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would require drastic changes in operations across all sectors. Carbon removal technologies can assist with reducing carbon emissions already emitted into the atmosphere. The team analysed and produced various models of a large-scale deployment of Enhanced Rock Weathering (ERW) as a carbon removal technology.

Food system

The current food system has not been working efficiently to sustain nutrition for all nations. That leads to wasting large amounts of food. The team has used multiple methods in their research to improve the relationships within the food system for reduced food poverty, improved nutrition, and sustainability.

The research also includes impact-related work of the packaging industry to help reduce packaging waste within the food sector and the impacts of consumerism on the environment.

Foundation industry

Foundation industries often have centuries-long established processes and supply chains, which would be difficult to change. The team has been developing ways to re-engineer the foundation industries to improve their resilience.

Professor Lenny Koh collaborated on integrated hybrid life cycle assessment and supply chain environmental profile evaluations of lead-based (lead zirconate titanate) versus lead-free (potassium sodium niobate) piezoelectric ceramics.

Find out more about this project

Using LCA and modelling, the team has been searching for low carbon cement alternatives to contribute to the decarbonisation of cement production.

As more plastics have been added to aeroplanes to make them lighter, research into the life cycle of plastic components was necessary to highlight which part of the aircraft life cycle has high carbon leakage. This research concentrates on where the plastic types come from, what they do, and the best end-of-life option to propose more sustainable aeroplane designs (see more in Transport).

Steel is a crucial material in many industries. The team has been researching steel as part of innovative materials and manufacturing routes to increase sustainability and performance (see more in Transport).


The transport sector, including high manufacturing industries such as civil aerospace, automotive and rail, faces multiple challenges on its path to resilience and decarbonisation.

The rail network has the potential to become a low carbon transport option. Using various types of modelling, the team has proposed solutions for improved energy efficiency and road-to-rail energy exchange, overhead line dynamics, and improved utilisation of stations.

Work has been ongoing on a unique project leading to the development of low-carbon transport systems worldwide by lowering the amount of embedded carbon in rail infrastructure, particularly steel, which currently accounts for approximately 43%.

Carrying out a thorough LCA, the team suggest solutions for sustainable management of plastic components in aircraft. This innovative solution encourages a circular economy approach for aircraft designers to design more environmentally friendly aeroplanes and aircraft recycler companies to develop new recycling pathways for plastic components.

In collaboration with Rolls-Royce, Professor Lenny Koh has launched a new project focusing on enabling supply chain resilience and security. The core of this project is a secure online tool enabling industries such as civil aerospace, automotive, and rail to measure their supply chain resilience and manage and respond to risk and security issues.

Find out more about this initiative

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