Can Sustainability develop within the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

The wheels of the Fourth Industrial Revolution—driven by Industry 4.0 technologies—are turning faster day after day. This fast acceleration is fueled by four main technology drivers: IoT (Internet of Things), AI (artificial intelligence), Cloud/Big Data/Cyber (CBC) and Robotics.

The impact of the industry 4.0 in terms of productivity & automation becomes tremendous as it forces the convergence between physical and digital world through cyber-physical systems, robots and IoT tools. From our own industrial experience, we saw a real shift from a heavy centralized industrial control systems (built often upon use of traditional ERP) to a smarter and more decentralized platform where AI/Agile Software define the production steps, develop closed-loop data and control systems that enable the personalization and customization of products. Such shift results often in improving productivity, brings higher flexibility and agility and finally leads to a better customers and partners experience.

In addition to above positive contributions from Industry 4.0 on productivity and cost optimization, Sustainability will be a big beneficiary from the power of Industry 4.0. In fact, and in many cases, Industry 4.0 contains various AI tools that suggests the creation of manufactured products through economically-sound processes, minimizing negative environmental impacts, reducing CO2 emissions, conserving energy and natural resources. In a nutshell, Industry 4.0 will act as an enabler to make manufacturing companies achieve sustainability goals from design to production to sales to usage closing the loop of 360-degree impacts across all scopes (S1, S2, S3) and hence guide/support many companies towards their journey to comply with ESG standards and Net Zero journey.

We also foresee industry 4.0 to play a major contributing role to the UAE government programs (such as UAE Energy Strategy 2050, the National Climate Change Adaptation Program, and the National Climate Change Plan of the United Arab Emirates 2017-2050…) in the achievements of their ESG targets. For instance, industry 4.0 is well placed to support UAE Energy Strategy 2050 target to increase the contribution of clean energy in the total energy mix from 25% to 50% by 2050 and reduce carbon footprint of power generation by 70% through systematic tracking of GHG emissions, green energy consumption and waste reduction.

While there is no strict correlation between sustainability and Industry 4.0, we can state from our experience that a well-designed and robust implementation of Industry 4.0 will contribute tremendously to achieving sustainability targets by lowering energy consumption, reducing waste, boosting employee’s moral, reinforcing ESG backed investments and aligning all company stakeholders. We believe that industry 4.0 can play a cornerstone role in the 1.5-2 degrees path and abatement of nearly 40 Billion Tons of CO2 annually.

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