Bradford Scholars is the University of Bradford online research archive. Access is free to anyone interested in research being conducted at Bradford. In the repository you will find a range of materials from journal articles and conference papers to research reports and theses.
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Solution processed PVB/mica flake coatings for the encapsulation of organic solar cellsOrganic photovoltaics (OPVs) die due to their interactions with environmental gases, i.e., moisture and oxygen, the latter being the most dangerous, especially under illumination, due to the fact that most of the active layers used in OPVs are extremely sensitive to oxygen. In this work we demonstrate solution-based effective barrier coatings based on composite of poly(vinyl butyral) (PVB)and mica flakes for the protection of poly (3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT)-based organic solar cells (OSCs)against photobleaching under illumination conditions. In the first step we developed a protective layer with cost effective and environmentally friendly methods and optimized its properties in terms of transparency, barrier improvement factor, and bendability. The developed protective layer maintained a high transparency in the visible region and improved oxygen and moisture barrier quality by the factor of ~7. The resultant protective layers showed ultra-flexibility, as no significant degradation in protective characteristics were observed after 10 K bending cycles. In the second step, a PVB/mica composite layer was applied on top of the P3HT film and subjected to photo-degradation. The P3HT films coated with PVB/mica composite showed improved stability under constant light irradiation and exhibited a loss of <20% of the initial optical density over the period of 150 h. Finally, optimized barrier layers were used as encapsulation for organic solar cell (OSC) devices. The lifetime results confirmed that the stability of the OSCs was extended from few hours to over 240 h in a sun test (65◦C, ambient RH%) which corresponds to an enhanced lifetime by a factor of 9 compared to devices encapsulated with pristine PVB.
Resilient and Sustainable Supply Chain Networks: A Case Study of the Perishable Food Industry in the USContemporary supply chain management (SCM) issues are multiplex and continually evolving catalysed by complexities and dynamism. The perishable food industry exemplifies this phenomenon, driven by globalisation, technological advancements and a highly competitive business environment. Inescapably, food supply chains are increasingly operating as supply chain networks (SCN). SCNs are typified by a higher level of interdependence and connectivity amongst firms, consequently evolving from dyad and triad relationships, which have dominated SCM research. These changes generate divergent risks and vulnerabilities that perturb perishable food supply chains in unconventional ways. Thus, the purpose of this empirical study is to investigate how firms within a perishable food supply chain network can build resilience and sustainability. The research focuses on advancing the management of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG). Methodologically, an empirical qualitative study is undertaken within a food manufacturer (focal firm) and 18 independent firms operating across all tiers of its SCN. Applying a pragmatic philosophical positioning, the study draws concepts from key supply chain theories to investigate the phenomena. The investigation uses Nicolini’s Zooming in and Zooming out as an analytical lens. The zooming in and out is established by shifting analytical lenses and re-positioning actors’ praxis, to ensure certain facets of their actions are fore-grounded while others are put in a background position and contrariwise moving the background to the foreground. The purpose of this technique is to draw meaning from everyday practices and trace the actions of actors across the entire SCN. The results uncover four distinct but intertwined main categories; whose subtle and often ignored interplay is crucial in attaining SCN resilience and sustainability. These main categories are Collaboration, Power Dynamics, SCN Culture and Information Systems. Current supply chain literature argues that collaboration is an essential enabler of resilience and sustainability. Building on this, the findings make a significant contribution by teasing out the intangible and predominately unacknowledged antecedents and salient sustaining factors of effective SCN collaboration. Furthermore, the study develops a resilience and sustainability (RS) matrix, which renders different impacts and outcomes of varying levels of SCN collaboration between firms operating in a perishable food SCN. Therefore, this thesis contributes knowledge towards constructing resilient and sustainable perishable food SCNs by proffering pragmatic propositions. These aim to address challenges facing industry stakeholders and ignite pertinent future research avenues for scholars.
Design of a self-learning multi-agent framework for the adaptation of modular production systemsThis paper presents the design of a multi-agent framework that aids engineers in the adaptation of modular production systems. The framework includes general implementations of agents and other software components for self-learning and adaptation, sensor data analysis, system modelling and simulation, as well as human-computer interaction. During an adaptation process, operators make changes to the production system, in order to increase capacity or manufacture a product variant. These changes are automatically captured and evaluated by the framework, building an experience base of adjustments that is then used to infer adaptation knowledge. The architecture of the framework consists of agents divided in two layers: the agents in the lower layer are associated with individual production modules, whereas the agents in the higher layer are associated with the entire production line. Modelling, learning, and adaptations can be performed at both levels, using a semantic model to specify the structure and capabilities of the production system. An evaluation of a prototype implementation has been conducted on an industrial assembly system. The results indicate that the use of the framework in a typical adaptation process provides a significant reduction in time and resources required.
A systematic review to identify research priority setting in Black and minority ethnic health and evaluate their processesBackground: Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities suffer from disproportionately poorer health than the general population. This issue has been recently exemplified by the large numbers of infection rates and deaths caused by covid-19 in BAME populations. Future research has the potential to improve health outcomes for these groups. High quality research priority setting is crucial to effectively consider the needs of the most vulnerable groups of the population. Objective: The purpose of this systematic review is to identify existing research priority studies conducted for BAME health and to determine the extent to which they followed good practice principles for research priority setting. Method: Included studies were identified by searching Medline, Cinnahl, PsychINFO, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, as well as searches in grey literature. Search terms included “research priority setting”, “research prioritisation”, “research agenda”, “Black and minority ethnic”, “ethnic group”. Studies were included if they identified or elicited research priorities for BAME health and if they outlined a process of conducting a research prioritisation exercise. A checklist of Nine Common Themes of Good Practice in research priority setting was used as a methodological framework to evaluate the research priority processes of each study. Results: Out of 1514 citations initially obtained, 17 studies were included in the final synthesis. Topic areas for their research prioritisation exercise included suicide prevention, knee surgery, mental health, preterm birth, and child obesity. Public and patient involvement was included in eleven studies. Methods of research prioritisation included workshops, Delphi techniques, surveys, focus groups and interviews. The quality of empirical evidence was diverse. None of the exercises followed all good practice principles as outlined in the checklist. Areas that were lacking in particular were: the lack of a comprehensive approach to guide the process; limited use of criteria to guide discussion around priorities; unequal or no representation from ethnic minorities, and poor evaluation of their own processes. Conclusions: Research priority setting practices were found to mostly not follow good practice guidelines which aim to ensure rigour in priority setting activities and support the inclusion of BAME communities in establishing the research agenda. Research is unlikely to deliver useful findings that can support relevant research and positive change for BAME communities unless they fulfil areas of good practice such as inclusivity of key stakeholders’ input, planning for implementation of identified priorities, criteria for deciding on priorities, and evaluation of their processes in research priority setting.
An exploration of migrant women’s perceptions of public health messages to reduce stillbirth in the UK: a qualitative studyBackground: Stillbirth is a global public health priority. Within the United Kingdom, perinatal mortality disproportionately impacts Black, Asian and minority ethnic women, and in particular migrant women. Although the explanation for this remains unclear, it is thought to be multidimensional. Improving perinatal mortality is reliant upon raising awareness of stillbirth and its associated risk factors, as well as improving maternity services. The aim of this study was to explore migrant women’s awareness of health messages to reduce stillbirth risk, and how key public health messages can be made more accessible. Method: Two semi-structured focus groups and 13 one to one interviews were completed with a purposive sample of 30 migrant women from 18 countries and across 4 NHS Trusts. Results: Participants provided an account of their general awareness of stillbirth and recollection of the advice they had been given to reduce the risk of stillbirth both before and during pregnancy. They also suggested approaches to how key messages might be more effectively communicated to migrant women. Conclusions: Our study highlights the complexity of discussing stillbirth during pregnancy. The women in this study were found to receive a wide range of advice from family and friends as well as health professionals about how to keep their baby safe in pregnancy, they recommended the development of a range of resources to provide clear and consistent messages. Health professionals, in particular midwives who have developed a trusting relationship with the women will be key to ensuring that public health messages relating to stillbirth reduction are accessible to culturally and linguistically diverse communities.