Industry 4.0 Strategy Net zero Sustainable Manufacturing Digital Transformation

Est. reading time: 3 minutes
Author: Steph Locke

There are so many benefits to going digital with your business including cutting your future operating costs and becoming more sustainable. We’ve taken a look at the UKRI’s report on productivity opportunities and risks in a transformative, low-carbon and digital age which looks at this in more detail.

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Steph Locke

Technologist and consultant with a track record of delivering transformation of businesses into data science and AI companies.


Digital technology and Net Zero combine when we look into the future for productivity opportunities in manufacturing. In Productivity opportunities and risks in a transformative, low-carbon and digital age from the UKRI the paper outlines how manufacturers can ultimately save money and be greener through investing in digital technologies today.

Across manufacturing, digital technology is becoming increasingly embraced but is far behind many other industries. Businesses that aren’t thinking about their future risk being disrupted as supply chains reorient.

It’s also why you should be thinking of not just digital technology in your business but your whole supply chain. Working together means you can streamline the entire process for an even bigger impact.

Industry 4.0 technologies have several attributes in common that explain their joint potential impact: improved options for interconnectedness and integration, increased use of big data and algorithms in decision-making, and improved automation and learning. That is, these technologies enable “the increasing digitization of the entire supply chain, which makes it possible to connect actors, objects and systems based on real-time data exchange”. The integration with low-carbon technologies and real time monitoring and demand management response for energy affords significant potential for resource and energy use and GHG emissions.

Digital technologies can be used to reduce emissions and improve productivity. Routes to benefit from digital technologies include:

  • Better integrating systems through the use of robots and AI to make production more predictable
  • Use of IoT, AI, and autonomous machines to reduce quality issues
  • AI can automate at least 30% of activities for more than half the workforce
  • Building a digital platform for your ecosystem and servitising your business model
  • Creating digital products to complement physical products

According to the report, the existing larger manufacturers are ideally placed to get first-mover benefits. It’s also not a quick-fix as business model reconfiguration and system integration with the supply chain takes multiple years to achieve and to realise the benefits. We see this regularly with manufacturers.

We accelerate digital transformation for manufacturers by demonstrating the gains available from AI and no-code. We provide non-invasive, no up-front investment tools that cover operational processes. Each tool sits inside a cloud environment for the manufacturer and is easily customisable. The tools are all built to integrate with many systems. Our tools alone can free up hundreds of staff hours each month; the full scope of potential savings is “unbounded” but eventually you do need to invest.

Manufacturers can have on-premises, legacy-version systems that make the use of AI, advanced analytics, and robotic process automation difficult. We provide advisory and training services, cloud migration support, and introductions to our service provider network to help overcome these legacy infrastructure issues. It isn’t just the machines on the factory floor that you can get benefit from replacing, but these sorts of larger investments do need a lot more planning.

But, as the report states, this investment generates lower future operating costs, making your business fitter and more sustainable.

Further reading

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