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Digitally Empowered Circular Economy: Industry 4.0 technological enablers

Lead contributor: Saman Sarbazvatan

Industry 4.0 Technological Enablers drive innovation in solutions and services and restructure the economic and business models and market dynamics. The accelerating pace of Digital Transformation and the upcoming Digital Economy drive and are driven by the mass integration of Industry 4.0 Enabling Technologies in the back-end, core, and front-end of industries, businesses, and markets. Such innovations drive the transition to the Digitally Empowered Circular Economy and help us achieve SDGs and Sustainable Competitiveness more efficiently.  

Designed in five insightful parts, this chapter sheds light on the applications and implications of some of the major Digital Enablers of the Circular Economy. It highlights the pivotal role of Data-Informed Decision Making, Innovation, and Governance for smart utilization of assets and resources. 

Unfolding the numerous advantages of Big Data, Analytics, and Artificial Intelligence, this chapter explores how this technology stack can enrich data-informed decision making and improve service and product design for a smart selection of environmentally friendly materials and processes and help us cut waste, pollution, process time, and downtimes for more intelligent use of resources. These technologies are fueled by Cyber-Physical Systems, IoT, and Intelligent Assets, which enable connectivity and feedback loops across the Physical, Digital, and Biological realms. Such innovations empower predictive, preventive, and prescriptive maintenance, and help us optimize resource allocation, cut waste and pollution, enhance manufacturing and production, reduce energy consumption, design right-in-time inventory management, and enhance product after-life and end-of-life processes.  

Following a deep dive into the above with use cases and applications, this chapter explains how Blockchain, Tokenized Economies, and Business Models constitute another significant pillar of Digitally Empowered Circular Economy and Sustainable Competitiveness by acting as the cornerstone enabler of Trust and Transparency in sourcing, production, transportation, distribution, maintenance, after-sales, and end of life of products. Eventually, Extended Reality, Virtualization, and Digital Twins are explained further to highlight how they drastically reduce the consumption of materials and generation of waste and pollution while enhancing the functionality of resources via auxiliary digital layers for more efficient interaction of assets across the physical, digital, and biological dimensions.  

Accentuating the above in four parts with examples and use cases, the final part of this chapter summarizes the discussions by providing Key Takeaways and Actionable Insights for researchers, entrepreneurs, investors, firms, industry and market leaders, and decision-makers to capitalize on a plethora of innovation opportunities emerging from the Digital Enablers of Industry 4.0. This chapter highlights a wide spectrum of opportunities to leverage these technologies to promote the circular economy, SDGs, and Sustainable Competitiveness with broad applications across sectors. This chapter helps vanguard entrepreneurs, visionary leaders, and forward-thinking decision-makers to develop cutting-edge solutions and strategies by capitalizing on the emerging trends of digital enablers to gain competitive advantage and purpose-driven innovation capacities. 

What's inside

Big Data, Analytics, & AI

Explore how Big Data, Analytics, and Artificial Intelligence are interrelated, and how the large amounts of complex structured, unstructured, and semi-structured data sets lead into data informed decision making for smart governance of markets and business administration toward Circular Economy. 

IoT, CPS, & Intelligent Assets

Learn how Internet of Things, Cyber Physical Systems, and Intelligent Assets interconnect the Physical, Digital, and Biological realms and empower smart systems with Feedback Loops for increased efficiency of resources, solutions, and processes. 

Blockchain & Tokenized Business Models

Explore how Blockchain is poised to create more than 40 million jobs and generate more than $3 trillion of business value by 2030, and how it empowers Tokenized Economies and Business Models to enable the transition to the Circular Economy. 

Extended Reality

Learn more about Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Mixed Reality, why they are projected to attract about $20 billions of investment by 2024, and how they empower SDGs and enable innovative solutions to facilitate the transition to the Circular Economy.

Digital Twins

Explore how Digital Twins can facilitate the transition to the Circular Economy across sectors by leveraging a combination of advanced technologies such as Telecommunication, Data Science, Analytics, Simulation, Virtualization, Artificial Intelligence, Cyber Physical Systems, IoT sensors, and smart components.

Public & Private Data

Learn more about the role of Public and Private Data in Boosting Innovation and Development, and some impactful solutions in place that are driving Digitally Empowered Circular Economy & SDGs across economies, markets, industries, and businesses.

I4.0 Digital Enablers

Big Data, Analytics, AI, IoT, Blockchain, Extended Reality, and Digital Twins provide Insight, Intelligence, Connectivity, Feedback Loops, Trust, Transparency, Enhancement, and Transversality, among many other advantages. Find out how these attributes drive SDGs, Sustainable Competitiveness, and the Circular Economy transition.

Economic, Industrial, and Business Model Innovation

Discover how the four groups of I4.0 Technological Enablers promote Efficiency, Competitiveness, & Circular Economy by empowering Economic, Industrial, and Business Model Innovation in Carbon Offset Markets, Waste Management Systems, Smart Grids, Buildings, Agriculture, Logistics, and Supply Chains, among others.