Industry 4.0: An Enabler for Business Continuity and Sustainability
Most countries worldwide today are facing the public health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders, globally, are confronted with twin apprehensions: how severely has the COVID-19 outbreak battered the economy and what actions should be undertaken to prepare for the possible challenges.
As the manufacturing industry navigates uncharted and choppy waters, the industry leaders might want to review their strategies to manage the interruptions. So, with all of these disruptions, can it be presumed that COVID-19 has prompted a premature renovation in industrial operations? These challenging situations helped shape Sanjiv Narula’s research interests.
He feels that COVID-19 could turn out to be a black swan event, which may force organizations to transmute their strategies and operating plans. The vital need to plan smarter, robust, flexible, and agile supply chains has been one of the critical lessons of this pandemic. Fortunately, new-fangled digital technologies of I4.0 are emerging, which are related to lights-out manufacturing, denoting an entirely automated work setting.
The idea of a completely functional industrial unit with minimum workforce may help to continue production without any constraints, especially during the public health emergency crisis. On the other hand, numerous establishments are being confronted with a lot of challenges. This triggered Sanjiv and his Ph.D. guides in BMU to carry research about the role of I4.0 technologies in managing the medical device industry operations and associated challenges.
Coming from industry and being involved in many initiatives, he has been exploring the impact of I4.0 on lean manufacturing, with the possibilities of digital technologies making the organization’s processes faster, more flexible, especially in the context of business continuity in academics & business world.
During one of such research, Sanjiv and his guides proposed a conceptual mind map from experts’ feedback for the synthesis of implementation challenges of I4.0 in the medical device industry and analysis of the findings using the integrated structured modelling.
Sanjiv feels that the “transition to I4.0 has been complicated and multifaceted as organizations struggle to shift towards evolving technologies while clutching on to sustainability.”
During one of the meetings, Sanjiv along with his co-authors from BMU, London metropolitan university and Brazil discussed that an interdisciplinary and integrative examination of I4.0 with sustainability is required not only to harmonize but also to conjoin environmental & societal benefits with business success.
In one of his research accepted in the Journal of Cleaner Production, Sanjiv and his co-authors looked at the applicability of I4.0 in the adoption of global reporting initiative standards for achieving sustainability by expert survey and analysis of findings by ANOVA and Fuzzy AHP.
This research discloses the low impact of I4.0 technologies on society, which needs to be studied in future research on Industry 5.0 technologies and systems. Importantly, future studies may want to explore some of the critical challenges for integrating sustainability with I4.0 technologies.
To leverage the potential for sustainable growth and competitiveness of manufacturing SMEs coming from digital innovation, the Digital Innovation Process Guide has been developed by Sanjiv with the support of national experts from Asian productivity organization member countries. Its conceptual framework, tools, templates have been tested in almost 100 manufacturing SMEs in India, Singapore, the Republic of China / Taiwan, and Vietnam.
The Digital Innovation Process Guide becomes even more valuable for SME managers and business advisors in their efforts to drive innovation by digitization and digitalization in manufacturing SMEs. However, to harness the transformative potential of I4.0, business leaders across all industries will be increasingly called upon to articulate on strategy for meeting the risks and challenges of I4.0. We require a globally accepted assessment tool for measuring the management of I4.0-associated risks for smart factories, which are being investigated by Sanjiv and his professors at BMU.