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Toward the Next Generation of Resilient Energy and Manufacturing Supply Chains

Published: December 9, 2020
Resilient Energy and Manufacturing Supply Chains
Toward the Next Generation of
Resilient Energy and
Manufacturing Supply Chains

The Texas A&M Energy Institute, along with affiliated colleagues, are working to envision, study, and implement the next generation of resilient energy and manufacturing supply chains.

These solutions will require innovative use of data, creativity, and knowledge to positively impact industry and society.

This article highlights four ways the Energy Institute is helping to realize these changes:

1. Disaster-Resilient Design of Manufacturing Facilities Through Process Integration

2. How to build more secure, resilient, next-gen U.S. supply chains

3. Quantitative Decisions: Combining Experts & Data to Improve Complex Systems

4. Resilience Enhancement and Disaster-Impact Interception (READII) in the Manufacturing Sector

Disaster-Resilient Design of Manufacturing Facilities Through Process Integration

A team of Energy Institute researchers, along with colleagues from Qatar University, recently published an article in Frontiers in Sustainability’s Specialty Section of Sustainable Chemical Process Design titled “Disaster-Resilient Design of Manufacturing Facilities Through Process Integration: Principal Strategies, Perspectives, and Research Challenges,” which can be read at

Frontiers in Sustainability publishes rigorously peer-reviewed, cutting-edge research addressing complex adaptive systems engineering, sustainable process design, practical production, and environmental, resource use, and sustainability challenges.

The research team was led by Mahmoud M. El-Halwagi, a professor and Holder of the Bryan Research and Engineering Chair at the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University, and the Managing Director of the TEES Gas and Fuels Research Center, and also included:

  • Debalina Sengupta, the Associate Director of the TEES Gas and Fuels Research Center
  • Efstratios N. Pistikopoulos, the Director of the Texas A&M Energy Institute, the Dow Chemical Chair, and a Professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University
  • Jeff Sammons, the Associate Executive Director of the Texas A&M Energy Institute
  • Fadwa Eljack, an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Qatar University
  • Kazi Khoda, a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Chemical Engineering Qatar University

The objective of the article is to provide perspectives on the use of process integration for developing disaster-resilient designs of industrial plants with a focus on the process industries (e.g., chemical, petrochemical, oil, gas, specialty chemicals, pharmaceuticals, biorefining).

Extreme events cause significant damage and disruption to the manufacturing sector, associated supply chains, and adjacent communities. Although much research has addressed the resilience of infrastructure, very little work has targeted the resilience of the manufacturing processes. The article focuses on three categories of extreme events: natural disasters, pandemics, and economic collapses.

The research team identified 12 principal strategies for creating disaster-resilient designs in process industries: (1) Fail-safe by design, (2) Redundancy, (3) Reconfigurability, (4) Modularity/Mobility/Distributability, (5) Repurposability, (6) Flexibility, (7) Controllability, (8) Reliability, (9) Recoverability/restorability, (10) Rapidity, (11) Robustness, and (12) Resourcefulness.

How to build more secure, resilient, next-gen U.S. supply chains

Eleftherios Iakovou, the Harvey Hubbell Professor of Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M University and the Director of Manufacturing and Logistics Innovation Initiatives at the; Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, along with Chelsea C. White III, the Schneider National Chair in transportation and logistics and a professor at the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech, recently published an article in The Brookings Institution’s Tech Stream, titled “How to build more secure, resilient, next-gen U.S. supply chains.” Read the full article at

The article highlights how extreme weather events, labor disputes, cyberattacks, supplier disruptions, and epidemics have historically negatively impacted supply chains. While COVID-19 was not the first epidemic to disrupt supply chains, none of the previous epidemics disrupted global trade and domestic supply chains as much as COVID-19. The ongoing pandemic has highlighted structural problems in global supply chains.

Making the case that that managing supply chain risk is necessary, the authors reveal that there has not been broad adoption of supply chain risk management tools, and they point to the benefits of adoption for organizational competitiveness and the bottom line. Further emphasizing this, the authors posit that new information and manufacturing technologies provide great potential for improving resilience and productivity in response to real-time demand analysis.

The ideal result is a dynamically resilient data-driven supply chain network that will quickly detect, respond to, and recover from such changes by adjusting manufacturing capacity as needed. Such a supply chain will be resilient and either lean or agile, depending on need.

Read more of the article on The Brookings Institution’s Tech Stream.

Quantitative Decisions: Combining Experts & Data to Improve Complex Systems

On November 30, 2020, the Texas A&M Energy Institute hosted Ryan Sitton, the Founder of Pinnacle, as well as a Texas Railroad Commissioner at the Texas Railroad Commission, for its 2020 Distinguished Lecture in Energy. His presentation was titled “Quantitative Decisions: Combining Experts & Data to Improve Complex Systems.”

In this lecture, Sitton discussed that there have been constant debates about the future of energy and that as a range of new technologies and approaches have become more common, clarity has been sought on the specific implementations and timelines. With the economic challenges presented in 2020, particularly those created by COVID-19, one of the most critical foundations of modern society – energy – has been severely challenged with questions about the future as people all over the world are looking for stability ahead of sustainability.

Using historical and contemporary data, Sitton argued that to move forward, we must use data to better understand our current position. He also explained how data is redefining the energy industry, how it can be used to reveal what the energy transition might look like, and through his own business, he emphasized that the secret to sustainability is reliability.

To watch the entire lecture, view the Texas A&M Energy Institute’s YouTube channel at

Resilience Enhancement and Disaster-Impact Interception (READII) in the Manufacturing Sector

Sponsored by a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center Planning Grant in 2018, the Texas A&M Energy Institute and participants from five other major universities in the US Gulf Coast Region (The University of Texas at AustinLouisiana State UniversityMississippi State UniversityTuskegee University, and Florida Atlantic University) embarked on an effort, called READII, to anticipate, mitigate, and respond to the devastating impacts of natural disasters on manufacturing value chains while protecting surrounding communities.

This group hosted five workshops in 2019 across the Gulf Coast Region with more than 100 representatives of stakeholder groups to discuss industrial and societal needs, possible strategies, and the potential impacts of READII. Beyond the workshops, the READII team carried out retrospective analyses using data from previous disasters. While estimates varied, the consensus was that about 25% of the economic losses resulting from recent hurricanes were caused by disruptions in production and services, casualties, and spillages associated with manufacturing value chains. Significantly, 40% of these losses could have been averted with the resilient technologies, planning, mitigation, and advanced decision-making methodologies and tools proposed by READII.This group continues to work together to develop a holistic, innovative, convergent, and scientifically-driven platform, one that enables the creation of disaster-forecasting models, resilient technologies, decision-making frameworks, methodologies and tools, and pre-and post-disaster planning and response strategies.