Shaping the Sustainability of Production Systems: Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies for competitiveness and sustainable growth

The future of manufacturing is at an inflection point. Consumers are demanding personalized products and services, instantly fulfilled. Industry incumbents are racing to adjust to this new generation of customers by building new networks of partners and digitalizing operations – all while agile new entrants carve out and capture market share. Meanwhile, global temperatures are rising, demand for resources continues to outpace the Earth’s ability to replenish them, and with the industry and manufacturing sectors accounting for 41% of global gross domestic product (GDP),1 the production sectors are positioned directly at the nexus of economic impact and resource usage. Tomorrow’s manufacturers won’t be able to operate with the same resource intensity as past generations, and so now, more than ever, we must find ways to remain competitive and sustainable.

By harnessing the combinatorial power of digital, physical and biological technologies, however, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) presents a way for manufacturing to increase its competitiveness and contribution to regional economies, while at the same time helping to deliver on the United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals.

This White Paper examines and quantifies the potential impact of 4IR technologies on production systems in two of the world’s manufacturing hubs and looks at technologies that can help manufacturers access new levels of efficiency as well as enabling more sustainable business models. In the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, we identified six 4IR technologies that could unlock an additional $5 billion a year of sustainable value for its fast-growing electronics and automotive manufacturers by 2022. In the US state of Michigan, there are four such technologies with the potential to add $7 billion annually to its automotive sector.

Our analysis is presented as a showcase not only of the regions we have chosen but also of the positive impact potential of 4IR technologies for manufacturing hubs around the world. We hope it will serve as a template for business and government leaders everywhere to increase competitiveness and sustainability. In doing so, we hope to illustrate that not only is there no tension between the two, but that sustainability may actually be an amplifier of competitiveness.

The World Economic Forum’s Regional Platforms for Sustainable Manufacturing will offer on-the-ground support to leaders as they seek the new collaborations that will turn the ideas in this report into action. Together, we believe the paper and these platforms can help manufacturers and governments across the globe rise to the challenge and accelerate progress towards a new era of sustainable production.

10 enero 2019