How Industry 4.0 Helps Mitigate Climate Change
Climate change is at the heart of most global discussions nowadays. Various political and economic initiatives are created to mitigate the impact of global warmings, such as the Paris Agreement, Climate-smart mining initiatives, etc. Also, technological advancements to reverse climate change.
5G subscriptions are estimated to provide network coverage up to 65% of the world's population by 2025, while 4G(LTE) is forecast to reach over 90% in the same year. With the development of advanced Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G-enabled cyber-physical systems, the broader mobile connectivity platform lays the foundation for industrial 4.0. As time goes by, this will transform how our industries are connected, disrupting existing business structures, and creating new opportunities. But, what will these innovations mean for climate change?
Leveraging IoT with 5G networks in the right way can accelerate the reduction of global emissions by up to 15 percent by 2030. Take examples of these sectors which have taken advantage of digitalization to have better control over their operation, drive growth, and reduce global emissions:
Smart Automotive Manufacturing and Logistics
Today, car manufacturing is fully automated, with robotic arms, machines, and Industrial 4.0 technologies to replace human laborers. Besides improving energy efficiency in factories, better data for supply chains management, etc. Manufacturers then can reduce waste and emissions across the entire lifecycle of products — from the initial metals and minerals to the energy used for production and shipping to market.
Moreover, digital manufacturing powered by industrial 4.0 can reduce time-to-market and make manufacturing more localized. This development can have a significant environmental impact by limiting cross-continent shipping. Thus, reducing transport emissions.
Developments in farming machinery — tractors, sprayers, combine harvesters, etc.—have increased food production with less labor. Despite this, as the world population and demand for food are rapidly rising, so are the environmental impacts of agricultural expansion.
Various innovations and emerging technologies, including vertical farming to maximize space and production and off-grid renewable energy systems, promise to produce food while effectively reducing emissions. Meanwhile, similar to car manufacturing, agriculture will eventually employ mass automation and intelligent technologies, such as robots for a range of agricultural tasks, automated mechanization, and IoT in agriculture.
Precision agriculture approaches powered by IoT technologies offer optimum application of resources to achieve high crop yields and reduce operational costs. From the fertilizer and pesticide quantity to the number of journeys the farm vehicles have made, thus enabling efficient utilization of resources, such as water, electricity, etc.
The world is rapidly transitioning to low-carbon technologies, like wind turbines, solar panels, and battery storage to combat climate change. But these technologies require a large number of metals and minerals mined. The World Bank forecast the production of minerals, such as graphite, lithium, and cobalt, could increase by almost 500% in 2050 to meet the growing demand for clean energy technologies.
The increase in mine demands and climate change push the mining industry's transformation. Firstly, the shift from diesel to electrification as a primary power source. Secondly, digitalization to increases productivity and eases maintenance. Thirdly, high-efficiency motors and drive standardization reduce customers' total cost of ownership. All are pushing optimal assets deployment to a sustainable manner that reduces carbon footprints for the overall environmental impact and improves safety and operations.
In conclusion, Industry 4.0 needs to fulfill four conditions to be climate-compatible. First, it must promote energy efficiency and achieve substantial energy gains. Second, support the circular economy, allowing greater productivity and improved use of resources. Third, achieve sustainable development through eco-innovation. And finally, decentralized significant technology transfer to various sites.
The world's industries are fast approaching a tipping point. The small changes in digital technologies are opening new opportunities on the market, changing how we do business, impacting emissions reduction, and sustainability on our societies and economies.
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