The market for electric motors is experiencing a step-growth due to their adoption across a range of industrial sectors. This increased demand also highlights the importance of end-of-life management of electric motors and a requirement for appropriate strategies for the high value materials embedded in them. This paper aims to offer a holistic view on the circular economy research for electric motors and the role of Industry 4.0 technologies by presenting the state-of-the-art available in literature and comparing it with the industrial perspective. The literature review revealed the absence of a methodology for selecting the best end-of-life scenario for industrial electric motors. Recycling, which is an end-of-product-life strategy, was found to be the key focus area of research. Reuse, which is a better strategy in terms of waste hierarchy, was the least researched area due to lack of information about the condition and availability of returned products. In order to capture the current landscape within the UK for the repair, remanufacture and recycling of electrical machines, a structured survey of UK based companies was conducted. The survey revealed that nearly half of the companies do not undertake any repair strategies for electrical machine components; however, there was an aspiration from the respondents to migrate their companies towards more sustainable activities. The industry survey and the review of existing literature led to the identification of research trends, challenges and recommendations for future research.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.