Abstract

The Swedish strategic innovation programme, Produktion2030, is a national long-term effort towards global industrial competitiveness addressing Swedish industry’s transition towards climate goals of the European Green Deal while simultaneously realising smart manufacturing and Industry 4.0 (I4.0). This paper investigated the extent of sustainability implementation and implications of I4.0 technologies through a nation-wide quantitative survey in Produktion2030’s 113 collaborative research projects. The analysis showed that 71% of the assessed projects included environmental aspects, 60% social aspects, and 45% Circular Economy (CE) aspects. Further, 65% of the projects implemented I4.0 technologies to increase overall sustainability. The survey results were compared with literature to understand how I4.0 opportunities helped derive sustainability and CE benefits. This detailed mapping of the results along with eight semi-structured interviews revealed that a majority of the projects implemented I4.0 technologies to improve resource efficiency, reduce waste in operations and incorporate CE practices in business models. The results also showed that Swedish manufacturing is progressing in the right direction of sustainability transition by deriving key resilience capabilities from I4.0-based enablers. Industries should actively adopt these capabilities to address the increasingly challenging and unpredictable sustainability issues arising in the world and for a successful transition towards sustainable manufacturing in a digital future.

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