Insights: Sustainability in the Fourth Industrial Revolution
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Insights: Sustainability in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Insights: Sustainability in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Industry 4.0 can help manufacturing companies achieve their sustainability goals by improving operating efficiency, optimising cost, and eliminating sustainability issues right at the point of product design

Charles Mellagui of Ducab Sustainability in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The wheels of the Fourth Industrial Revolution — driven by Industry 4.0 technologies — are turning.

Industry 4.0 is the evolution to cyber-physical systems led by four main technologies: the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence, the cloud and big data/analytics.

Industry 4.0 has brought on even more automation than in the third industrial revolution; bridged the physical and digital world through cyber-physical systems, enabled by Industrial IoT; produced a marked shift from a central industrial control system to one where smart products define the production steps, developed closed-loop data models and control systems as well as enabled the personalisation and customisation of products.

The new capabilities of Industry 4.0 have led to the ‘smart anything’ marketing trend which typically garners significant attention: from smart grid, smart energy and smart logistics to smart facilities, including smart buildings, smart plants, and smart offices, to smart manufacturing, smart factories, smart cities, etc.

These developments allow the possibility for and end-to-end value chain with industrial IoT and decentralised intelligence. IoT stands to play a fundamental role in the future of manufacturing.

According to a report issued by PwC, 90 per cent of manufacturers believe that digitising the production process will bring more long-term benefits than risks.

IoT has become part of an ecosystem for manufacturers, where software, cloud computing, and analytics tools are combined to turn raw data from various sources into meaningful predictions.

Manufacturers believe that IoT is required to transform industrial operations digitally, but steep investment costs are the most significant barrier to preventing faster adoption of industrial IoT in manufacturing. Nevertheless, experts have projected that discrete manufacturing, transportation and logistics, as well as utilities industries will spend around $40bn each on IoT platforms, systems, and services.

Industry 4.0 also helps manufacturing companies accelerate their sustainability journey and achieve their sustainability goals. Helping companies increase growth and global competitiveness, most manufacturers have now realised that their company stands to gain substantial financial and environmental benefits from sustainable business practices.

Sustainability in manufacturing

Sustainable manufacturing is the creation of manufactured products through economically-sound processes that minimise negative environmental impacts while conserving energy and natural resources. Industry 4.0 acts as an enabler to make manufacturing companies achieve their sustainability goals quickly by improving operating efficiency, optimising cost, eliminating sustainability issues right at the point of product design, and reduces emissions.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) report suggests that Industry 4.0 promises improved methods of production and business models through new technologies, including process automation, augmented reality, AI and machine learning as well as the Internet of Things, which could accelerate the deployment of renewable energy in manufacturing, reduce carbon emissions, optimise energy use, enhance productivity, and cost savings. Industry 4.0 initiatives are important as they make the supply-chain and manufacturing processes intelligent, boost energy efficiency, and reduce costs across the supply network.

At the top of the agendas of many companies, sustainability has now become one of the main priorities for an organisation. Similarly, the UAE government has also prioritised this and has announced a number of initiatives such as the UAE Energy Strategy 2050, the National Climate Change Adaptation Program and the National Climate Change Plan of the United Arab Emirates 2017-2050, to name a few.

The UAE Energy Strategy 2050 aims to increase the contribution of clean energy in the total energy mix from 25 per cent to 50 per cent by 2050 and reduce carbon footprint of power generation by 70 per cent, thus saving 700 billion by 2050. This can all be achieved with the power of Industry 4.0.

Charles Mellagui is CEO for the Cable Business Unit at Ducab.

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