Development of New Skills: Innovation and Sustainability in Industry 4.0
Industrial processes play a vital role in the world economy. Innovation is considered an essential and necessary component in the development of product manufacturing techniques, while research is a powerful tool to strengthen this industry further. The adoption of technology would only occur if economic needs drove innovation. Currently, industrial development must be related to environmental concern and sustainability, so the search for new skills to be implemented in the industry is no longer only due to an economic need but to general demands related to the social and environmental development of humanity. From new infrastructures to more efficient processes for the use of raw material and biodegradable components must be developed so that the industry can assume its role of enhancing the progress of sustainable inclusion.
The SDG 9 Innovation and Sustainability
The Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development was officially approved in September 2015 by unanimity in the General Assembly of the United Nations. It is a statement of a comprehensive set of goals for a global development agenda that sets out 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030, as well as 169 targets. The SDG 9 establishes goals related to the construction of resilient infrastructures, the promotion of inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and the promotion of innovation as a means of promoting sustainable development.
In this context, the development of new skills that allow the elaboration of resilient infrastructures, processes with less waste of raw material, use of biodegradable products, and other sustainable actions can have positive impacts on the society. An example is the use of smart technologies that have a transformative effect on economic and social processes by establishing means of simplifying production, optimizing results, and minimizing harmful environmental effects.
Sustainable industrialization is one of the main drivers of economic growth and is an effective strategy for reducing poverty. Successful economic development is directly related to industrialization, but traditional industrial processes tend to seek the use of nonrenewable resources, which leads to environmental degradation. In this way, research in the production area should be directed toward the elaboration of ecologically correct measures to drastically reduce the environmental damages that could occur.
The concept of organizational sustainability is of great interest for the industry and academia. As with innovation, the business environment is not well adapted to adopt these concepts. The integration of sustainability and organizational innovation can protect the organization assets and stimulate the creation of better goods and services that meet people’s needs, making industrial sustainability a strategic choice in this regard.
Sustainable innovation promotes growth at the levels of human development, the creation of new job opportunities, and the reduction of environmental degradation. New industrial practices must extinguish the destruction of the environment in a predatory way.
Subsection “Innovation and Infrastructure” presents innovative processes related to infrastructure. Systems of technological innovation are described in Subsection “Technological Innovation Systems”. In the next two subsections, the paper introduces the definitions of smart industry (“Smart Industry”) and sustainable industry (“Sustainable Industry”), as well as a discussion of its possible positive impacts on society and examples already carried out. Subsection “Contributions of Development of New Skills” is reserved for a discussion of prospects and some cares related to this topic. Finally, the final considerations (“Future Prospects”) are presented in the last subsection.
Innovation and Infrastructure
With the advancement of the industry, it is clear that product support and its distribution infrastructure need advancement, but establishing faster and more efficient communication processes have an even more substantial impact on the speed in which innovation occurs.
The rapid diffusion of existing knowledge, ideas, and information helps to accelerate innovation, economic growth, and structural change in most industries in all countries at all stages of development. Modern communication infrastructure, enriched with its wireless and wired broadband capabilities, is facilitating this process in a very revolutionary way (Nadiri et al. 2018).
Since the creation of the Internet and the widespread adoption of wireless communications, the accessibility of the Internet via broadband (high speed) is another revolutionary phenomenon of information and communication technology. With the progressive improvement in speed and quality of broadband connections, along with continuous innovation and automation in information technology, the role of modern communication infrastructure in achieving higher rates of economic growth and development is expanding.
The contribution of communication infrastructure has been widely evaluated, especially about the nature and characteristics of such technology that change very rapidly. The availability of fixed and mobile high-speed broadband communication technology is significantly improving the efficiency of many micro- and macroeconomic activities.
According to Nadiri et al. (2018), in the last decade, the introduction and deployment of wired and wireless broadband have further enhanced the quality and characteristics of the modern communications capital infrastructure. An estimated US$500 billion in potential economic gains is a result of the ubiquitous implementation of broadband.
Some studies, such as Koutroumpis (2009), have found that a positive impact of the penetration of the broadband connection on the productivity growth of industry occurs. The incremental growth rates were estimated that a 1% increase in broadband penetration rate would contribute to 0.13% productivity growth. It has also been reported that, with a relatively low penetration of information technologies, the impact of broadband is almost nil.
Another critical aspect of innovation is the resilient infrastructure. The concept of resilience is the ability of systems to absorb change and persist despite disruptions. There are two types of resilience: engineering and ecological. While engineering resilience is the ability of a system to maintain the functionality during a disturbance and subsequently return to its stable state, ecological resilience recognizes the presence of multiple stable states and is defined as the ability of a system to absorb perturbations before restructuring to a new state (Holling 1973).
Currently, the concept of resilience is also broadly associated with a disaster risk reduction. According to the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, a community resilience depends on its ability to withstand, absorb, accommodate, and recover from the impacts of a hazard. Resilience in the civil infrastructure sector is mainly indicated by strong leadership and management, competent staff, robust supply chain relationships and partnerships, and the ability to anticipate and cope with unexpected market changes. External factors, such as simplified procurement systems, standardized compliance procedures, guidelines for resilient industry practices, improved training systems, and workflow assurance, also contribute significantly to improving corporate resilience (Pascua and Chang-Richards 2018).
The road capacity directly influences the industrial development, mainly in the aspects of energy consumption, and can negatively impact the results of sustainability. The increase in road density can aid in the distribution of industrialized products, thus increasing productivity, but other ecological aspects must be observed as the environmental impact for the construction of new roads, as well as the increase of energy consumption and emission of pollutants since road vehicles generally make use of fossil fuels. Therefore, alternatives should be sought for road transport, such as the construction of railroads and even the use of river transport where this is possible (Tan et al. 2018).
Technological Innovation Systems
In the history of humankind, processes of technological evolution were fundamental to industrial progress. Industrial revolutions promote social and economic advances and contribute effectively to the quality of human life.
The term Industry 4.0 is derived from an initiative launched by the German government to safeguard the long-term competitiveness of the manufacturing industry. The concept consists of the integration of cyber-physical systems in industrial manufacturing. Industry 4.0 aims to establish the creation of intelligent, self-regulating, and interconnected industrial value (Kagermann et al. 2013).
Cyber-physical systems comprise intelligent machines, storage systems, and production facilities, which can exchange information, initiate actions, and control each other. Its Internet interconnection also called the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) generates technological leaps in engineering, manufacturing, material flow, and supply chain management (Müller et al. 2018).
In Industry 4.0 there is full support for the introduction of customer-driven and non-product-driven innovations, as well as value capture or monetization, such as pay-as-you-go models, as well as helping companies strengthen customer interaction and reach new customers through individualized value propositions. Müller et al. (2018) state that companies that aim to serve clients directly tend to also worry about other aspects of their lives, such as social, environmental, and economic conditions, generating a positive cycle of human development.
Reischauer (2018) explores in his research that two promises are presented to companies in the debates on Industry 4.0. First, companies can significantly improve productivity, flexibility, and efficiency. Second, cyber-physical systems are considered to be an enabling skill that allows multiple innovative applications as well as innovation in a company business model. Cyber-physical systems refer to technical systems embedded in larger systems, such as devices, buildings, infrastructures, and production facilities. Cyber-physical systems capture, record, and interpret environmental data and react to signals in the environment. In contrast to other technologies, cyber-physical systems are regulated as they can communicate with both human actors and other devices, both locally and globally.
Cyber-physical systems support the often quoted revolutionary scope in Industry 4.0. The revolutionary scope is already mirrored in the label “4.0” meaning a fourth industrial revolution. Thus, in contrast to earlier debates about the role of new skills in manufacturing, such as computer-integrated manufacturing, Industry 4.0 explicitly relates to past revolutions in manufacturing (Reischauer 2018).
The IT industry around the world has maintained a rapid growth trajectory in the last decades. Regarding technological advances, some countries lagging behind technical performance have transformed their development strategy to imitate those at the forefront. Liu et al. (2018) state that a complete technological innovation usually involves a two-stage process: technology development and technology diffusion. At the stage of technology development, innovation focuses primarily on technology “production” activities, including basic research, applied research, product development, production research, quality control, and marketing. Regarding technology diffusion, the major innovation activities place more emphasis on the “use” of technology, including understanding, adoption, implementation, and assimilation. The success of a technology innovation initiative means that technology has not only been developed but has also been successfully marketed in the market.
Technological innovation usually has a networked nature in the stages of development and diffusion. The organization as the basic unit to undertake technological innovation has its limits, which means that it is probable that only one cannot provide the necessary resources and capabilities. Organizations need to build relationships, or links, with external partners when undertaking innovation projects. Therefore, the networked nature of innovation must inspire all the processes related to this activity, being of essential importance for the success of modern industrial advances (Liu et al. 2018).
Currently, innovations are presented in an interactive process of knowledge generation and application. The implementation of innovative organizational concepts is considered highly important for the competitiveness of a company. The development of innovation capabilities allows companies to be proactive in adopting standardized management systems. Quality and innovation departments should cooperate to facilitate the standardization of new products and processes. Innovative companies often conduct cooperatives with business partners to carry out innovation activities (Stanković and Micić 2018).
Information and communication technology (ICT) systems are essential for modern manufacturing. The fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) integrates all current technologies such as sensors, wireless networks, Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence, and information management systems to create a cyber-physical system and intelligent factories.
Smart manufacturing is driving greater competition among manufacturers around the world. According to PwC’s “Global Industry Survey 4.0 of 2016,” the global manufacturing industry will invest more than US$900 billion in Industry 4.0 initiatives by 2020. By 2015, 33% of global companies surveyed in the report is considered, but the proportion is expected to increase to 72% by 2020. Global manufacturers are digitizing critical functions of their internal horizontal value chains and external vertical supply chains, and these digital skills should help companies reduce costs by 43% and increase revenues by 35% (PwC 2016).
For most technology items, the maturity of the technology precedes the maturity of the market, although with different variations for each element. Considering some technological items such as Environment Sensor IC and Biometric Sensor IC of the Sensor Layer; Integration of Machine Tools, Equipment, or Components with Integration Layer Sensors; and Platform Integration and Decision-Making and Risk Management, optimization of the Response Layer presents a smaller gap between technology and market maturation. Among these items, it is expected that the Integration of Machine Tools, Equipment, or Components with Sensor Layers of the Integration Layer and Optimization of the Response Layer Production Programming will mature within 1 year, making them the top candidates for application development for companies seeking to enter the field of smart manufacturing. Most technology items present a more significant gap, indicating that the companies prefer to wait for a technology to prove its maturity before investing in market development (Liu et al. 2018).
For various technology items, the technology is expected to mature later than the market. In this case, market demand has already materialized for a technology that is not ready for deployment. This indicates a strong demand for related skills, and companies should prioritize the development of these technologies by entering the field of smart industry.
Parallel to the development of the Industry 4.0, organizational sustainability flourished through the integration of economic and environmental issues into the organizational decision-making processes. The implementation of sustainability in production and consumption processes aims to mitigate negative pressures on the ecosystem generated by products, services, and transportation. The quest for a more sustainable production and consumption system is very relevant because of the high risks posed by environmental challenges, such as climate change (Jabbour et al. 2018).
The concept of organizational sustainability is an interest in industry and academia. As with innovation, the business environment is not yet well adapted to adopt these concepts.
Innovation is an essential factor in the success of implementing organizational sustainability. With the union between sustainability with innovation, organizations can lay the foundation for their leadership and power in front of their competitors. This means that organizations should not only rely on their internal development of new products and services, but they also need to encourage innovation across their borders and their supply chains and other sources, such as universities and research centers. For this, organizations need to develop a culture of sustainability, articulating values and policies that consider economic, environmental, and social aspects as a dominant idea, and establish a link with the organization goals and vision (Mostafa and Negm 2018).
García-Álvarez (2015) states that integrating sustainability and organizational innovation can protect the organization’s assets and stimulate the creation of better goods and services that meet customer needs, making organizational sustainability a strategic choice. Organizations should seek national and international recognition by adopting sustainability policies, especially with increasing numbers of sustainability indexes, such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. However, theoretical models and case studies on organizational sustainability and their relation to innovation are lacking.
The sustainability of the industry is strongly related to the sustainability of sociotechnical change. Processes of sustainable technological transitions, industrial transformation, and socio-technical change are considered as the approaches that can significantly improve the sustainability of an industry. Among these three main components, socio-technical change is recognized as the most significant process to impact the sustainability of the industry. The more sustainable the change, the higher the degree of sustainability that the industry maintains (Liu et al. 2018).
Many industries operate based on projects, and therefore, they promote research that generates a flow of knowledge that directly interfere with the sustainability of the company. In the survey of Bossink (2018), one can perceive essential factors so that there are no negative impacts on the company sustainability plan. The main strategies should combine knowledge flow mechanisms with a supportive effect in creating sustainable innovations and on the limited adoption of sustainable innovation, without which no sustainability planning will be able to be effectively and efficiently implemented.
Contributions of Development of New Skills
Modern industrial processes must have the capacity to generate data that can be analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively. The quality of the products should be measured, as well as the values added to the final result. New tools or techniques should consider the effects of sustainability on predictive industry calculations so that institutions can make better decisions in critical scenarios (Chung 2018).
Research results show that companies that use different types of tools, such as management systems based on electronic communication or automation processes, achieve better results than industries without any sustainable management. Communication information technologies involve positive effects on the processes of socialization, exteriorization, combination, and internalization of knowledge management. The co-learning of the tools favors the development of live fashion that involves the redesign of new production lines in 2 weeks (product innovation) and a short-line production and zero stock policy (process innovation) in the company (Garcia- Álvarez 2015).
Gomes (2017) states in his research that one of the community services that municipalities can implement in support of Agenda 2030 is the promotion of local economic development. Through actions that boost the local economy, beneficial impacts are intensified, such as increased income, employability, and fostering business in the region. Besides, under the right conditions, private companies offer the potential to increase innovation, stimulate wealth creation, transfer technology, increase productivity and meet basic needs, and improve the quality of life for millions of people around the globe.
Contemporary entrepreneurship considers in its precepts the concepts of solidarity economy and a shared economy. Solidarity economy is a mode of production that goes beyond simple economic undertakings, since it is characterized by new forms of collective co-existence that generate work and income through mutual and reciprocity relations, supported by solidarity and equity. The productive means of collective ownership of those who work with them can form small cooperatives (Gomes 2017).
The shared economy has a close interface with the solidarity economy, allowing both a better use of already existing resources, often underutilized and proving to be more productive and efficient, toward a new paradigm of creation/appropriation of wealth and value. In this way, the new business models of sharing are revolutionizing, in particular, the core of microeconomics, and the company, creating enormous amounts of value, not only in the economic sphere but bringing positive environmental and social effects.
Technological innovation drives growth and structural changes across the economy, helping processes to be more productive, and provides “fuel” for innovation in other industries. Besides, innovation has the potential to create new poles of growth and drive markets that have an impact on macroeconomics. In this context, the dynamics of sharing have the potential to accelerate the rate of discovery in the field of science, since it structures in the connectivity of people and organizations.
The flow of knowledge about sustainable innovation in a project-based industry supports the creation of sustainable innovations as well as a limited adoption of these sustainable innovations. Sustainability techniques and tools are created, tested, and enhanced in small-scale demonstration projects; and large established companies and their customers adopt only a small fraction of these sustainable innovations on regular projects. Considering a growing worldwide appeal for more standardization of sustainable innovations developed in demonstration projects, the scientific study of the improvement of this process should be intensified, as well as its practical use in practice (Bossink 2018).
The development of new skills also contributes to the development of more resilient structures. Currently, the concept of resilience is also broadly associated with disaster risk reduction. The resilience of a community depends on its ability to resist, absorb, accommodate, and recover from the impacts of a hazard. To be resilient, countries, communities, and families must be able to maintain their standard of living, despite shocks and tensions, or adapt to the changes brought about by such events without compromising their long-term development prospects (Pascua and Chang-Richards 2018).
The civil infrastructure sector plays a critical role in driving economic growth and improving the resilience of society. It turns out that resilience in the civil infrastructure sector is mainly indicated by strong leadership and management, competent staff, robust supply chain relationships and partnerships, and the ability to anticipate and cope with unexpected market changes. External factors such as simplified purchasing systems, standardized compliance procedures, guidelines for resilient industry practices, improved training systems, and workflow assurance also contribute significantly to improving the resilience of the construction industry.
In general, the policy and business model of companies with regular projects does not provide a subsidy for the creation of new skills. Sustainable projects must be adopted from the beginning of the industrial process to the end of the distribution line. In practical terms, governments, policymakers, and business managers need not only work toward sustainable innovation by setting up demonstration projects but also need to establish initiatives and programs aimed at the large-scale adoption of options. Alternatively, to support a widespread application of newly developed sustainable innovations and thus encourage the adoption and diffusion of sustainable innovations, policymakers could decide to put large-scale commercial organizations instead of small participants in the driver’s seat. By stimulating sustainable demonstration projects, and working with larger companies, directly target the development and exploitation of sustainable innovations on a broader scale across the industry. Another critical aspect that can be observed is that the professionals should intensify the management of the knowledge flow in and around the projects and the constellation based on projects.
New smart technology key technology architectures are proposed every day. A technology road map is developed as the structure, and critical technologies are defined through interviews with experts who provide information on the current status of intelligent manufacturing including market maturity, technological maturity, and critical technology correlation. Based on the results, a prediction of intelligent manufacturing domain technology and market maturity is formulated as well as emerging technology development trends. Based on this analysis of intelligent manufacturing domain technology and market trends, the results provide a basis for industry and researchers to understand the development trends of leading intelligent manufacturing technologies and to develop policies to support the development of the industry (Lu and Weng 2018).
Currently, the innovations are presented in an interactive process of generation and application of knowledge. The implementation of innovative organizational concepts is considered highly important for the competitiveness of a company. The development of innovation capabilities allows companies to be proactive in adopting standardized management systems. Quality and innovation departments should cooperate to facilitate the standardization of new products and processes. Companies that want to innovate often conduct cooperative innovation activities with business partners (Stanković and Micić 2018).
Process standardization has contributed to the business process revolution in many industries. As competition increases, companies are increasingly looking at standardizing processes to improve management further. Knowledge and information have become an essential means of determining the profitability of enterprises. Companies may identify and develop sustainable controllable processes. Industries need to effectively combine and utilize knowledge resources that are distributed among employees and company groups. Software engineering can help recognize problems in building large, knowledge-based systems for the development of intelligent technologies. Countries that have encouraged their people through education and invest heavily in research and development are well positioned to take advantage of these new global markets.
The development of new skills enables cooperation between industries and universities. The formed partnerships are capable of producing science at a higher speed, mainly by the capacity of receiving investments. Financing is favorable for everyone as new research is formulated and new products for improving industrial processes are built. The increase of profitability happens with the proportional adaptation of the companies to a new sustainable reality (Szücs 2018).
Public subsidies for P&D have been steadily increasing in recent decades. This evolution has occurred in parallel with the growing evidence that research leads to substantial social benefits and that therefore private investment in P&D by firms is likely to fall short of the P&D level corresponding to the social optimum (Szücs 2018).
The future of industrial development goes through new policies to encourage research that directly relates productivity to the sustainability and resilience of companies. Resilience and sustainability are essential aspects so that industries can continue to develop without environmental and social damages that directly affect human life.
Then there is the question: “What is the economic reason to provide public support for the research activities of private companies?” If industries employ research resources until their marginal revenue equals their marginal cost, efficient allocation naturally promotes satisfactory results. Thus, public subsidies would only be justified in the event of market failure. Because research projects often generate unexpected results, the knowledge generated may be of little value to the sponsoring company. Even if the results are valuable, the industry may have difficulty preventing others from economically exploiting the generated knowledge. Besides, factors such as the time lag between research and a marketable product and the uncertainty associated with it may further discourage businesses.
In the Szücs (2018) survey, it is noted that while innovation failure and market failures of P&D are common, their causes are highly industry-specific, and this needs to be taken into account by policymakers seeking to solve the problems. They outline a set of possible solutions designed to improve innovation performance under different industry-specific ways.
Another factor that will exert a predominant influence on the development of new skills by the industries is the use of renewable energies.
Renewable energy production processes are recognized as a promising alternative to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and pollutant emissions. The development of new sustainable energy production processes is a complex system that is influenced by a large number of factors that need to be analyzed and encouraged in parallel with the use of new skills (Zhao et al. 2019).
Resilience is another factor that should be studied in sustainable infrastructures. The ability to resist and adapt to environmental or economic changes will be critical to the future of smart industries. The development of technologies capable of predicting possible changes will have direct impacts on the maintenance and continuity of the companies (Pascua and Chang-Richards 2018).
Small businesses should receive essential resilience tools, precisely because they are more susceptible to adverse impacts from social, environmental, and economic changes. New sustainable technologies will be created at low cost so that more small industries have access.
While innovation brings positive results to industrial production, several companies still insist on using old processes that harm the environment and other social issues for a variety of reasons, ranging from an old management culture to the fear that innovation will not bring satisfactory productivity and profitability.
Concerning the impact on the demand for labor, the situation is unique. Although the substitution effect of the communication infrastructure is adverse in all sectors, for a subsection of the industries, the higher rate of growth of the product successfully offset the adverse effects of replacing the communication infrastructure and generated a net positive effect on demand for labor. However, the number of these industries is limited, and this has resulted in a net reduction in the demand for labor at the aggregate level for the private sector. This aggregate-level estimate excludes the communication industry itself. Following John Maynard Keynes (1930), we can describe this reduction in demand for labor as “technological unemployment.” In addition to the reduction in demand for labor, the innovative use and application of the modern communication infrastructure service are also changing the structure of the labor market due to changes in the needs of new jobs, which will be compatible with technology in evolution (Nadiri et al. 2018). Therefore, further research in this area could help policy decisions at the national level.
From experience reported in Mannan et al. (2017), the government has a crucial role to play in carrying out extensive education campaigns at the business community level to ensure that all industries are organized and adapted on the use of new technologies. At the same time, government support is vital in mobilizing and persuading entrepreneurs to abandon their stubbornness in avoiding to adopt technological innovations.
The recommendation is that the government should remain committed to providing extensive educational campaigns at basic levels on innovation awareness and also to provide training programs and outreach services and to focus more on the society.
This entry aims to generate favorable business environments, encourage entrepreneurship, and, above all, clarify the state of technological progress so that reflection and open debate about the desired world can occur in 2030, introducing new visions that guarantee the correct direction to build resilient infrastructure and promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization.
This study was carried out on the development of new skills. The authors hope that this work can contribute to the identification of actions for the enhancement of infrastructure, innovation, and sustainable industrialization relevant to modern industrial growth.
Therefore, it is recommended to analyze the projects and programs that are already implemented around the world and evaluate which already corroborate with the SDG 9. With the acquired knowledge about the positive experiences already implemented, it is possible to elaborate plans of action to develop new skills to optimize sustainable and resilient industrial growth.
In the future, further research should be developed to study and develop new skills for sustainable industries and resilient environments. Thus, a survey to incorporate information on non-patent innovation activity measures could be conducted. Similarly, information about entrepreneurs could be collected to determine the influence of human capital on the innovative performance of companies in which talent plays a vital role in their success. Besides, the effect of different contexts can be considered.
Some cities have been working on promoting themselves as an appropriate location for smart industries; the effect of this local context could be analyzed. Besides, it is necessary to look for local variables that capture the levels of knowledge that benefit companies or other factors related to regional markets. Finally, this analysis may apply to other countries with systems of innovation and industrialization at a level of development below that of the worldwide. In any case, considering a multilevel structure should be useful for all researchers interested in business innovation.
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