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A European research project will reduce the environmental impact from the supply chain for civil and military helicopters.

The European helicopter industry is characterized by a large number of subcontractors with highly specialised skills. The CORINE project is the response to the challenge of bringing ecodesign to a complex product involving a large number of small suppliers.

As in many industrial sectors, the helicopter supply chain is under growing pressure from regulators to meet high environmental standards. Until recently, SME’s in the aerospace, electronics and automotive sectors were ill-prepared to manage the supply chain from an environmental perspective. Know-how and IT tools were lacking.

Eurocopter, a division of EADS, the aerospace giant, took the initiative to bring the helicopter sector into compliance with a fast growing array of environmental regulation. The industry initiative has led to the creation of CORINE, a European ecodesign project equally funded by the European Commission and industry.

In addition to Eurocopter, some of the ecodesign partners involved in CORINE are Paris-based EcoMundo, which will provide the IT tools at the core of the project and CARMA, a research and innovation centre expert in ecodesign located in Sophia Antipolis, France.

CORINE’s work will first involve a core group of high technology SME’s for the validation of tools and methods, before the project’s findings are shared with a wider range of SME’s which is the ultimate objective.

The three-year CORINE project is expected to remove the current difficulties in managing the environmental impact of the value chain which is populated by a very heterogeneous community of SME suppliers.

CORINE will substitute greener processes and materials throughout the design and manufacturing cycles, while safekeeping the full operational capabilities of the final product. CORINE will substantially decrease the use of solvents used in manufacturing and reduce hazardous waste, energy consumption and carbon emissions from the helicopter supply chain.

According to Pierre Garçon, president of EcoMundo, "CORINE gives the helicopter industry the opportunity to develop its own environmental strategy. In a sector as competitive as helicopter design and manufacture, innovation in environmental compliance becomes a growing source of differentiation which translates into a real competitive advantage."

From the start of the project in January 2010, CORINE will provide SME’s with a methodology called Product Oriented Environmental Management Systems (POEMS) which is adapted to the sector’s stringent manufacturing processes, as well as interactive systems easy to use by SME’s.

 

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