Driving the Sustainability of Production Systems with Fourth Industrial Revolution Innovation PDF


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Originally published at: https://blog.12min.com/driving-the-sustainability-of-production-systems-with-fourth-industrial-revolution-innovation-pdf/

One can’t be blamed for feeling that the Third Industrial Revolution barely started yesterday, and the World Economic Forum says we are already in the midst of another one.

The goal of this one?

Driving the Sustainability of Production Systems with Innovation.”

Who Should Read "Driving the Sustainability of Production Systems with Fourth Industrial Revolution Innovation"? And Why?

When something has a boring and ridiculously long title as "Driving the Sustainability of Production Systems with Fourth Industrial Revolution Innovation" – you can be all but sure that it is a white paper.

And when that white paper is written by the World Economic Forum – it’s safe to assume that you are not reading about the present, but that you are, in fact, getting a glimpse into the future.

At merely 60 pages, the article convincingly argues that competition and profits mean little without proper sustainability practices because, in the absence of the latter, there may be nothing to compete for and nothing to profit from in the blink of an eye.

So, leaders and managers, governments and corporations, take note: the future depends on you implementing the advices from this white paper!

And we are not exaggerating!

World Economic ForumAbout the World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a Swiss non-profit foundation based in Geneva, "committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas."

Every year, the Forum organizes a meeting in Davos, which brings together over 2,500 business and political leaders, Nobel Prize-winning economists, celebrities and journalists to discuss – in no less than three days – “the most pressing issues facing the world.”

This meeting has even generated a neologism, “Davos Man,” usually pejoratively used to mean a “supranational wealthy member of the global elite.”

"Driving the Sustainability of Production Systems with Fourth Industrial Revolution Innovation PDF"

As we all know, the First Industrial Revolution started in the second half of the 18th century and used steam and water power to mechanize production.

The Second took place in the last half a century before the First World War and this one used electric power to create mass production.

The Third Industrial Revolution is the one most of us have lived our lives through – it is commonly known as the Digital Revolution, during which we used information technology to automate processes.

Well, brace yourself: as Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of WEF announced a while ago, a new, Fourth Industrial Revolution, has begun.

This one is building on the third and is characterized by “a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.”

So, think AI, robotics, biotechnology, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, i.e., technology embedded in society and biology.

Fortunately, one must say, since we’re on the brink of a sixth extinction and we must do something about it now, lest we want to wake up in a tomorrow when nothing can be done anymore.

Because our economy has been unsustainable for much too long.

We now know (or most of the world acknowledges)" – states WEF’s white paper – "a simple truth: the way the world manufactures cannot be sustained. The ‘take-make-dispose’ linear economy approach results in significant resource inefficiency.

And here are the facts:

Global manufacturing consumes about 54% of the world’s energy and a fifth of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Industrial waste makes up to half of the world’s total waste generated each year. Production activities are gobbling up primary resources; metal ore extraction, for example, rose by 133% over the last three decades. At the same time, resource extraction from non-renewable stocks grew, while extraction from renewable stocks declined.
In other words, we do not have enough resources to keep up the growth.

The problem is that, in fact, we’ve never had them, and that everybody has known this for quite some time: century-old predictions have estimated that, unless we develop better practices, at one point, we’ll use up all of our resources and be left with nothing more but deserted industrial capacities and worldwide poverty.

Let us guess: you know about the peak oil problem ever since you were a little child, right?

Now, why have we been purposefully turning a blind eye on a problem as enormous as this for so long?

One word: capitalism.

Simply put, it was too expensive for corporations to care about problems such as the world or unsustainable production because this would have stopped production altogether.

So, as businesses grew more and more efficient in extracting and using resources, they grew more and more ineffective in preserving them.

Governments usually didn’t help one bit, because even though the “profits from destroying the planet were privatized,” “the cost for addressing the damage was socialized.”

In other words, in the eyes of the business leaders, sustainability was a cost only taxpayers’ money can and should cover.

It’s time to put an end to this!

Due to the technological advances of the Third and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, sustainability has not been a cost for a while; in fact, it is already a major business opportunity. One can even argue that, with more and more people being conscious of what we are doing to the planet, sustainability has become an important competitive advantage.

And this is where the Accelerating Sustainable Production (ASP) project of the World Economic Forum System Initiative on Shaping the Future of Production comes into play.

Its final goal?

To “harness innovation to strengthen competitiveness while delivering increased efficiency, improved human well-being and less environmental damage.”

How?

Through financing innovation in five cross-industry areas which hold the most promise for accelerating sustainable production.

Let’s have a look at all of them!

Key Lessons from "Driving the Sustainability of Production Systems with Fourth Industrial Revolution Innovation"

1. Advanced Remanufacturing 2. New Materials 3. Advanced Agriculture 4. Factory Efficiency 5. Traceability

Advanced Remanufacturing

Thanks to developments in IT, new manufacturing cost-effective methods are revolutionizing production processes in the automotive and the electronics industry, making them both more efficient and greener.

New Materials

Thanks to advances in nano- and biotechnology, new materials are quickly disposing of traditional materials, becoming not only better, but also cheaper. These include green electronics, new types of packaging, and various alternatives to meat, leather, and plastic.

Advanced Agriculture

We are now more precise than ever, and new technologies are capable of optimizing farming decisions "on everything from fertilizer and irrigation to harvesting time and seed spacing." And better planning doesn’t only translate into better business opportunity, but it also means greater care for things such as food scarcity and ecosystem health.

Factory Efficiency

The Internet of Things has already introduced us to an age in which factories are basically producing by themselves, in an all but near-dark environment, while shortening the supply chains and reducing the consumption of non-renewable resources.

Traceability

The widely debated blockchain technology – coupled with data tags and sensors – is already allowing companies to safely trace and verify all relevant information about a product, whether it is the origin of its materials or the supply chain through which it has traveled. In the very near future, this should ensure fair earnings for small suppliers, while eliminating low-value-added processes.

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"Driving the Sustainability of Production Systems with Fourth Industrial Revolution Innovation Quotes"

[bctt tweet="Our aim in the Accelerating Sustainable Production project is to leverage production as a tool for meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and as a source for business competitiveness. " username="get12min"]

[bctt tweet=“Sustainability has been viewed as a cost. That perception needs to change to ensure we collectively understand that it can also represent a major business opportunity.” username=“get12min”]

[bctt tweet=“In the past, profits from destroying the planet were privatized while the cost for addressing the damage was socialized.” username=“get12min”]

[bctt tweet=“The way the world manufactures cannot be sustained. The ‘take-make-dispose’ linear economy approach results in significant resource inefficiency.” username=“get12min”]

[bctt tweet=“The production of the future will cater to rapidly evolving consumer needs by delivering products and services within a well-designed supply chain that fully embeds innovation and sustainability.” username=“get12min”]

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Our Critical Review

Dense with data and statistics, outstandingly well-structured and well informed, "Driving the Sustainability of Production Systems with Fourth Industrial Revolution Innovation" is a well-researched, well-written and finely illustrated white paper of utmost importance.

Dear reader, if you are in a position to decide, know this: the earlier you implement it – the better for all of us.