Industry 4.0, digitization, and opportunities for sustainability

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The stories we have been hearing from the manufacturing industry in the past are almost too good to be true. From their very nature, they sound like just another digital marketing hype: Industry 4.0, smart manufacturing, factory digitalization, and a new industrial revolution.

They all paint a picture of a utopian manufacturing world where man and machine work together to produce goods that are more sustainable, efficient, and cost-effective than ever. However, as it turns out these narratives are not that far from reality. At least when it comes to the technological advancements that make them possible.

Industry 4.0, digitization, and opportunities for sustainability

What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is the fourth industrial revolution, and it is comprised of three main elements:

  • The convergence of the physical and digital worlds
  • The development of an internet of things that allows everything to be connected in real-time
  • The future of manufacturing will be characterized by smart manufacturing

How is the Internet of Things used in smart manufacturing?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of physical objects connected to the internet. These objects can communicate with each other and share data. The IoT combines machines, computers, databases, and humans into one network to improve efficiency and productivity in industries such as manufacturing and logistics.

Now that you know the IoT let’s talk about how it can be used in smart manufacturing.

According to an analyst firm, 82% of factories have experienced downtime due to unplanned events or damages in the manufacturing process. These unplanned downtimes can value a corporation about $260,000 an hour in meduim to large-size factories. Machine downtimes and damages may be crucial to manufacturing companies. Plus, they will additionally endanger frontline workers.

IoT devices have numerous sensors that may monitor the temperature, vibration, voltage, currents, and more. So, these sensors can facilitate early warning signs of any expected malfunctions, making a safer workplace.

Artificial intelligence and big data you need to know

In the context of Industry 4.0, artificial intelligence (AI) and big data are two essential parts you need to know about. AI automates processes, while big data is used to analyze processes. Combining the two can help optimize processes, improve quality, and reduce costs—all of which are key aspects of sustainability initiatives.

Cloud-based computing in smart manufacturing

Cloud-based computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.

  • On-demand self-service
  • Broad network access
  • Resource pooling
  • Rapid elasticity
  • Measured service

The future of Industry 4.0 in manufacturing

As we move towards a digital economy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, I see many opportunities for sustainability. The internet of things (IoT) will allow us to use data in new ways and make better decisions. Advanced technologies like machine learning are already enabling companies to be more efficient, reduce waste, and increase profitability.

This is especially true for manufacturing processes where there’s plenty of room for improvement—the German government estimates that up to 25% of all industrial emissions could be avoided by making smarter production decisions based on real-time data streams from sensors installed throughout their facilities. By harnessing the power of digitization, we can build sustainable factories that will last through the next century and beyond!

Manufacturing companies can keep their competitive advantage by adopting Industry 4.0 solutions early.

As the manufacturing industry moves towards Industry 4.0, companies must understand how their competitive advantage can be maintained by adopting sustainable solutions early.
While Industry 4.0 has been defined as a term to describe the fourth industrial revolution, it’s also a way of thinking about how manufacturing will evolve. The concept is not just limited to digitization or automation—it encompasses both of these areas and more to create new opportunities for sustainability and growth in manufacturing industries worldwide.


Industry 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution, is shaping how various industries work. With the emergence of digital technologies like IoT and cloud computing, many manufacturers are embracing smart factories to automate their operations and achieve a sustainable production facility fully. Through digitization, manufacturing companies can lessen or altogether remove human errors in the production line for a much more efficient operation. Industry 4.0 opens new opportunities for sustainability such as energy efficiency and reduced carbon footprint by taking advantage of renewable energy sources like solar panels that create electricity from sunlight’s radiation.


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