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Digitalisation and resource efficiency

Posted on: 15.01.2019

Industry 4.0 is a name given to the current trend of automation, digital technologies, data monitoring, cloud computing, internet of things, and other computing-based solutions.

Digitally enabled resource efficiency

Industry 4.0 is a buzzword now. New digital technologies and artificial intelligence are changing what we do at home, work and on the move. They are increasingly important to innovation, optimisation, and in boosting competitiveness and growth. Perhaps a lesser-known benefit of Industry 4.0 is that it helps companies slash costs via more efficient use of materials, water and energy, reducing their waste streamsand environmental footprint. 

Where can Industry 4.0 offer benefits?

Practically everywhere! With advances in technology and computing costs coming down, Industry 4.0 is now within reach of businesses large and small, and can be seen in manufacturing and service industries. Green Alliance’s mapping study found opportunities for digital technologies to boost resource efficiency at different points along the value chain and in diverse sectors. The table below summarises some key opportunities.  

Is the benefit being exploited?

While the potential resource-saving benefits offered by digital technologies are manifest, not many SMEs are harnessing the benefits. A survey of 600 companies of all sizes in Germany revealed that only a fifth of the them are well digitised in relation to efficiency measures (e.g. process optimisation, use of new techniques). A further 20 % reported moderate digitalisation efforts, while more than a third showed no progress at all in this area. Of those engaged in Industry 4.0 practices like this, the majority are large companies. The survey suggests SMEs are either not well informed about the material-saving options through digitalisation, or holding back from applying these measures. 

Source: Green Alliance (2017)