There’s no denying that Industry 4.0 continues to transform the way companies operate, particularly when it comes to decision-making, testing business models and adopting new technologies.
Of course, these changes don’t just happen in a vacuum, as external conditions, such as the current energy crisis, also influence industry trends. But, on the positive side, they can also spur growth by leaps and bounds, with significant consequences for long-term sustainability, job market changes and innovation.
In these circumstances, it can prove challenging to make the best decisions and create long-term plans for your business, regardless of industry. Learning about what to prioritize is a great first step.
Industry trends are more than buzzwords–they tell you what to pay attention to and what everyone else is concerned about. Also, it’s an excellent opportunity to find solutions to already-existing problems.
Here are the most significant industrial transformation trends of 2023:
More and more industries are adopting AI and machine learning to help optimize and run their operations, from healthcare to energy. For example, AI for manufacturing is expected to grow to $16.7 billion globally by 2026. In Europe, manufacturing and IIOT (Industrial Internet of Things) could grow to €200 billion by 2030.
Smart factories are also on the rise, with IIOT systems that collect vast amounts of data. This data is then used for optimizing processes, maintenance planning and quality assurance, which translates into fewer human errors and improved productivity.
However, in the wake of the energy crisis, more and more manufacturers are interested in cutting costs and optimizing energy efficiency. AI can not only predict and make recommendations for saving energy but also anticipate the prices of raw materials.
AI can also play a significant role in Design Space Exploration, as it has the potential to generate new designs and help build new products faster. For example, it can leverage data to create realistic simulations of complex systems such as gas turbines.
And last but not least, extensive use of robots and intelligent devices leaves factories more vulnerable to cyber-attacks, which means that AI is the best assistant for detecting and blocking threats.
Energy efficiency is more important than ever for companies as gas and oil prices increase. Additionally, consumers, partners and employees are increasingly concerned about climate action. In fact, 87% of energy executives consider sustainability a “high or very high” issue, according to a survey by Arthur D. Little.
So, it’s not just about setting lofty sustainability goals but also having a realistic action plan. This means that companies will become more invested in renewable energy, especially as renewables are on track to overtake coal and become the largest global energy source by 2025.
Another way to manage energy more effectively is by adopting IOT and big data solutions to manage energy consumption. For instance, ENERGY STAR calculated that a 10% decrease in energy use could generate a 1.5% increase in net operating income (NOI).
Of course, energy management is also about continual improvement, and adopting standards such as ISO 50001 will allow companies to set goals, interpret energy data, measure results and improve energy consumption.
Similar to energy management, companies can benefit from a carbon neutrality status in many ways, including building a solid reputation in a world that needs more climate-conscious companies. However, there is also the aspect of world governments, particularly the EU pledging to achieve energy-related net zero emissions by 2050. To achieve this goal, clean energy investment needs to triple by 2030, bringing it to a total of $4 trillion. Not to mention that there’s the pressure to crack down on greenwashing practices, which means potentially more stringent laws when it comes to claiming net zero status.
Carbon-neutral production requires more efficient use of materials, which could reduce how much is consumed and how much waste is reused (the circular economy). To be genuinely carbon-neutral, companies must also rethink their relationship with suppliers and demand or choose partners with similar practices.
Another promising development is the growing adoption of heat pumps which are becoming more efficient and are considered to be the most important technology that can tackle heating climate impact. To avoid energy waste, companies are also investing in smart solutions, such as smart grid data processing and energy trading solutions.
Green hydrogen is also a major trend that industries will adopt out of necessity to replace fossil fuels. That’s because hydrogen is sustainable and easy to store.
This clean alternative is obtained through electrolysis, which doesn’t emit carbon dioxide. Consequently, this process could save 830 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
This also means that electrolyser manufacturing is on the rise. The most common applications are in the chemical and refining industries, as well as fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). This is also an opportunity for the iron and steel industry, which currently contributes to around 9% of global carbon dioxide emissions and will have to balance production and energy costs.
Industries need to figure out what the future will look like, especially when it comes to optimising processes, sustainability, and intelligent use of data. The red thread that connects all of these major trends is technology, which is becoming increasingly smarter and has the potential to solve all sorts of problems–from product design to reducing carbon footprints.
Here at Qubiz, we have helped many clients optimise their processes and implement cutting-edge IT solutions. Learn more about what we do and how to contact us!