Journal of Environmental Treatment Techniques  
2020, Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages: 875-883  
J. Environ. Treat. Tech.  
ISSN: 2309-1185  
Journal web link:  
An Indicator Framework Approach on  
Manufacturing Water Assessment towards  
Sustainable Water Demand Management  
Nurul Sa’dah Bahar , Zainura Zainon Noor , Azmi Aris1,2, Nurul Ashikeen Binti  
Faculty of Engineering, School of Civil Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, 81310 Skudai, Johor Bahru, Malaysia  
Centre of Environmental Sustainability and Water Security, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, 81310 Skudai, Johor Bahru, Malaysia  
Faculty of Engineering, School of Chemical and Energy Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, 81310 Skudai, Johor Bahru, Malaysia  
National Water Services Commission (SPAN), Cyberjaya, 63000, Selangor, Malaysia  
Received: 02/01/2020  
Accepted: 19/05/2020  
Published: 20/09/2020  
Population growth, industrialization, urbanization and change of life style have increased global water demand. Although agricultural  
water demand accounts as the largest overall user, emerging economics causes industrial and domestic water demand to increase  
tremendously especially in developing countries. One sector that contributes to rapid industrial demand is manufacturing sector. Despite  
many assessment methods being used in the past, it has been seen that measurement of manufacturing water use performance could only  
be done for specific manufacturing factory or specific industries. Due to lack of a holistic framework towards assessment water  
performance in any given manufacturing factory, this paper introduces an indicator-framework called Malaysia Manufacturing Industry  
Water Benchmarking System (MIWABS). This indicator framework was developed based on relevant sets of indicators arranged under  
sustainability pillars criteria. MIWABS uses stakeholder-driven approach whereby the established indicators and Analytic Hierarchy  
Process (AHP) assigning weightage were done through workshops and questionnaires. Rubber glove and semiconductor industries were  
chosen as demonstration study to validate the indicator-framework. The results highlighted the importance to emphasize on recycling  
water in manufacturing facilities. Besides that, manufacturing factories shall also explore other water alternatives such as groundwater  
and river to cater for their factory and production needs to reduce the dependency of potable water by public water operator. It is hoped  
that MIWABS can give input and policy direction as part of water demand management strategies in Malaysia.  
Keywords: Manufacturing water use, Water demand management, Indicator-framework, Sustainability  
drinking and sanitation (3). Industrialization does play an  
important role in boosting development in economy (4). In low-  
and middle-income countries, industrial water demand is about  
.1 Background  
Nowadays, sustainable water resource management is an  
0%, however, this percentage is significantly different for high  
overall concern in the world. With increasing population and  
urbanization expansion, the world will face a severe global  
water deficit (1) if water demand continues to rise with the  
finite water supply. Unavoidably, population increase will have  
direct impact to meet the demand in all sectors including  
domestic, agricultural and industrial sector (2). Growing water  
demand of 55% is projected by 2050. Among all sectors, an  
increase of 400% for manufacturing water demand is expected  
from 2000 to 2050. Multiple approaches have been used in  
assessing manufacturing water use. In those separate studies,  
indicators such as water per product, recycling rate and  
wastewater generation had been evaluated for optimization.  
These indicators are arranged according to sustainability pillar  
criteria as shown in Table 1.  
GDP countries where industrial water takes up about 60% of  
the total water demand. Therefore, since water resources are  
shared among sectors, assessment of water use in  
manufacturing sector is important. For example in China,  
economic transformation tremendously has changed the water  
demand proportion (5). The shift of water demand causes more  
initiatives to be introduced such as the Three Red Lines to  
control water use (6). All previous research had been carried  
out to optimize and minimize water use in primary activities  
such as process water and cooling water. Besides that, they also  
investigated minimization of wastewater generation that can be  
harmful to the environment. These approaches used indicators  
or drivers that reflect the current condition and helped to  
monitor for future trend as well. However, these indicators have  
yet to be presented in a holistic way to assess the performance  
of manufacturing water use. Thus, this paper aims to introduce  
the development of indicator-framework for manufacturing  
Focusing within a manufacturing facility, common water  
use is for the manufacturing process such as fabricating,  
cleaning, cooling, transporting a product, embedded as final  
product, cooling system, water treatment plant and also for  
Corresponding author: Zainura Zainon Noor, (a) Faculty of Engineering, School of Civil Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia,  
1310 Skudai, Johor Bahru, Malaysia and (b) Faculty of Engineering, School of Chemical and Energy Engineering, Universiti Teknologi  
Malaysia, 81310 Skudai, Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Email:  
Journal of Environmental Treatment Techniques  
2020, Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages: 875-883  
water use called, Malaysia Manufacturing Industry Water  
Benchmarking System (MIWABS). This indicator framework  
has been developed through collaboration between Universiti  
Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and National Water Service  
Commission (SPAN).  
made based on some standardized manner. Selection of  
indicators shall be done according to these criteria (35):  
relevant, quantifiable, accessible, timely manner, and long term  
The measurement of indices is made from time to time that  
allows tracking of trends and improvement. Changes of the  
multidisciplinary indicators can also be made based on  
applicability during time of measurements. Understanding  
these trends allow stakeholders to make concise decision for  
future betterment. Table 2 shows the example of developed  
indicator framework in water resources management. Indicator  
framework has been utilized to assess urban water, river basin,  
region and country water demand. Juwana et al. (2016) had  
developed WJWSI for river basin in Indonesia. Result for  
WJWSI gives comparison for the catchments used as a starting  
point by water authorities to embark on direction of water  
demand management of the said area. Water Poverty Index on  
the other hand, indicates water situation based on  
multidisciplinary indicators including physical and  
socioeconomics aspects.  
The index allows countries and communities to be ranked  
and it also enables the national and international organisations  
to take necessary action on the resources available.  
Furthermore, the impact towards the resources and its use can  
be assessed by both organisations based on the socio-economic  
factors. Studies have shown that indicator framework can  
produce a conclusive assessment to deliver overall current and  
performance improvement.  
Table 1: Indicators for manufacturing water use in previous  
Sustainability Indicators  
Manufacturing gross value (711)  
GDP / freshwater use  
Shadow price of freshwater  
Shadow price of wastewater  
GDP per capita  
Payback period  
Water treatment cost  
Environment Recycled water ratio  
Water use per unit output  
Water recirculation rate  
Total water intake  
Savings in water consumption  
Specific water-cooling demand  
per product  
Process water consumption  
Groundwater withdrawal  
Water depletion  
3 Research Flow  
Embodied water in coal use  
embodied water in oil use  
embodied water in other use  
The development of MIWABS consists of six (6) steps as  
shown in Figure 1. As the scope was defined, the aspect of  
research was identified. Horizon scanning of possible  
indicators was carried out. Then, these indicators were screened  
and filtered through workshop attended by relevant  
stakeholders. After that, based on established aspects and  
indicators, data collection took place in order to demonstrate  
the indicator-framework. Next, normalization of data was done  
where Proximity-to-Target method was used. Weightage  
assignment was carried out by using AHP method and  
questionnaire was distributed to water experts in Malaysia.  
Lastly, the aggregation of MIWABS indicators was done to  
express the performance of manufacturing factories in term of  
Total dissolved solids (TDS)  
Suspended Solid  
Total nitrogen  
Dissolved Oxygen  
Total phosphorus  
Total iron  
Stage one — Horizon scanning: The criteria for the  
Inefficiency level of execution  
of ISO 14000  
sustainable indicators relevant to manufacturing water demand  
was based on sustainability concepts which are environmental,  
economic, technological, and societal. These are the common  
aspects when it comes to sustainability. In order to establish the  
indicators, horizon scanning of existing indicators with respect  
to manufacturing water demand was done. Along with the  
criteria set, sustainable indicators must be measurable and  
relevant to be applied generically in all manufacturing  
industries in Malaysia.  
Section 2 will explain on the concept of indicator-  
framework and examples of indicator-framework that had been  
developed in water resources management previously. Then, in  
Section 3, the detail methodology for the development of  
MIWABS will be explained. Section 4 shows the discussion of  
the results. Conclusion and recommendation for future work  
are then portrayed in Section 5 and Section 6, respectively.  
The Concept of Indicator-Framework  
One of the established methods to assess the performance  
of water use is by using indicator-framework. It consists of  
indicators, aspect and indices (34). An index which is a single  
score number is obtained when aggregation of indicators is  
Figure 1: Research flow for development of MIWABS  
Journal of Environmental Treatment Techniques  
2020, Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages: 875-883  
Table 2: Indicator-framework in water demand management  
Number of  
Indicator Framework  
Time taken to collect domestic  
Clean sanitation  
Water Availability  
Access to safe water  
Water Poverty Index (WPI)  
Region or country  
Ecosystem Health  
Human Health and Well Being  
Community Capacity  
Water use  
Policy and Governance  
Watershed Sustainability Index (WSI)  
Canadian Water Sustainability Index  
River Basin  
Sustainable Cities Water Index  
50 Cities in the  
West Java Water Sustainability Index  
River Basin  
Stage two — Stakeholders’ perception for filtration of  
assign weightage. This method is widely used in the world to  
support individual and group decision making. Basically, the  
method uses problem modelling, weights valuation, weights  
aggregation and sensitivity analysis to rank the aspects (41).  
The AHP questionnaire was designed and distributed to water  
experts in Malaysia.  
indicators: Based on the possible indicators gathered from the  
horizon scanning process, filtration of indicators had been  
carried out through a working session with water and  
manufacturing stakeholders. Stakeholders consist of  
representatives from SPAN, water operators, government  
agencies, private agencies, and manufacturing factories.  
Thorough discussion among the stakeholders had managed to  
identify and establish the sets of indicators that was utilised for  
Horizon Scanning  
Stage three — Data collection through questionnaires  
for manufacturing factories: Based on the established  
sustainable indicators, a questionnaire was developed and  
distributed to selected manufacturing industries. As a pilot  
study, scoping for water intensive manufacturing industry was  
based on manufacturing census 2015 that was carried out by the  
Department of Statistics Malaysia. Two manufacturing sectors  
had been selected for the development of MIWABS namely  
rubber glove and semiconductor manufacturing factories.  
Indicator Filtration  
Data Collection  
Normalization of  
Stage four — Normalization of indicators: The