Industry 4.0 in Supply Chain: History
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Industry 4.0 is better known as the fourth industrial revolution and describes a future production system’s vision. In 2011, the idea of Industry 4.0 was first given and implemented by the German government for supporting automation in manufacturing. The fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) focuses on enabling automation to integrate all manufacturing industries’ systems to achieve sustainability. There are many disruptive technologies such as the Internet of things (IoT). This means that all the devices, machines, and processes in supply chains are digitally connected through an internet connection and share the real-time information of all the processes. The Internet of things (IoT) integrates different technologies such as sensors, networks, algorithms, and applications. The IoT enables businesses to improve their supply chain network and gain better productivity. Cyber–physical system (C.P.S.) is another fundamental technology of industry 4.0. C.P.S. can be implemented in many industries such as healthcare, logistics, and automobiles. From an operational view, logistics is the critical function of any business that engages the supply chain movements. A cyber-physical system allows the supply chain network to use networking, computation, and physical processes to add value in the production process to achieve competitiveness. Another concept of Industry 4.0 concerns automatic guided vehicles (A.G.V.), which are widely used by many companies.

  • supply chain sustainability
  • supply chain 4.0
  • Industry 4.0
  • Internet of things
  • automatic vehicles
  • drones
  • cyber–physical system
  • smart factory

1. Introduction

There are very few research studies available that explain Industry 4.0 technologies’ impact on manufacturing companies’ supply chain and Industry 4.0 technologies’ role in achieving supply chain sustainability. To cover this research gap, the current study is conducted. The main goal of this paper is to review the literature regarding the Industry 4.0 technologies, their roles, and their uses in the supply chain. For this purpose, the literature review was conducted and 55 articles were selected according to the defined criteria and systematic literature review (SLR) methodology adopted. Another goal of this study is to combine and integrate the Industry 4.0 technologies with the supply chain process and develop a framework that shows the role of Industry 4.0 technologies and their impacts on the supply chain process to achieve sustainability. By developing a conceptual framework, this paper helps decision-makers, top-management, policy-makers, and managers to make the right decision for the adoption of the right Industry 4.0 technology for specific supply chain processes. Moreover, this review can be useful for other studies in various areas of the supply chain by defining how Industry 4.0 technologies are evolving in the SC process since the last decade. Furthermore, this paper, to the authors’ best knowledge, is the first paper that highlights these issues and integrates the role of different Industry 4.0 technologies in various steps of the supply chain. 

2. Review Discussion and Findings

2.1. Demographics

2.1.1. Contribution by Publishers

In this stage, contributions made by different publishers were identified. It can be seen from Figure 6 that Elsevier is at the top, with the maximum number of publications of 39 papers. IEEE stands at the second highest with 12 papers and other papers are published by MDPI and InderScience.
Figure 6. Contributions by publishers (source: author).

2.1.2. Contribution by Journal

There are different sources used for the data collection. Table 1 explains the sources that were used for finding and selecting papers related to Industry 4.0, its technologies, and supply chain sustainability.
Table 1. Sources of the selected articles.

2.1.3. Contribution by Top Author’s

The top ten authors that contributed most to the field of Industry 4.0 and supply chain sustainability are shown in Table 2.
Table 2. Top ten authors’ contributions.

2.1.4. Contribution by Country

Figure 7 illustrates that China, the UK, and India are the countries that have the highest contribution in this field based on the number of papers.
Figure 7. Country-wise publication details (source: author).

2.1.5. Year-Wise Publications

This section provides a review of the selected articles by publication years. It can be seen in Figure 8 that there is a massive increase in the number of articles in the last few years because Industry 4.0 technologies such as the CPS, the IoT, the sSmart factory, drones, and AGV, as well as supply chain sustainability, have become the key subject areas for both researchers and academicians.
Figure 8. Year-wise publication data (source: author).

2.2. Taxonomy

This work studied two terms, namely Industry 4.0 and SCS. For Industry 4.0, we alienated Industry 4.0 into five technologies that are AGV, the IoT, the CPS, drones, and SF. Moreover, supply chain 4.0 includes SCS. In Table 3, the detailed comparison of each research article has been done according to their research focus, research methods, and results.
Table 3. Comparison of classified articles based on their focus, methods, and results.
Duarte et al. [1] explained the relationship between lean and GSCM to smoothen the physical production process. For the virtual flow of information and data, they linked lean and GSCM with Industry 4.0, and companies can achieve a competitive advantage if they understand their characteristics. Further research can also be done to check which characteristics have more influence to achieve sustainability in the supply chain. Legenvre et al. [2] proposed a framework by using a systematic inductive research approach to remove the issues that are associated with purchasing and the supply chain management function while installing IoT systems. They concluded that the adoption of IoT facilities in the company is the more productive approach. Matana et al. [3] presented the model that helps to explain the association of internal logistics activities with the CPS system. Gupta et al. [4] introduced the countermeasures and blockchain-based integrated AV architecture that helps to prevent cyberattacks and threats associated with AGV in Industry 4.0. Osterrieder et al. [6] found eight distinct viewpoints within the concept of the smart factory based on currently available literature. Bag et al. [8] identified 13 key enablers of Industry 4.0 that can be used to achieve sustainability in the supply chain system. Chalmeta et al. [10] expanded the understanding of Industry 4.0 and big data in the development of a sustainable supply chain based on a literature review. They also defined six research directions for future studies. Bezai et al. [13] presented a detailed review of automatic guided vehicles and combined the obstacles related to AV in one framework. Tang et al. [15] examined the uses and applications of Industry 4.0 technologies. They also examined the role of logistics functions to achieve sustainability in the presence of these technologies. Yavas et al. [16] conducted a comparison of traditional logistics centers with transformed logistics centers in Industry 4.0. Furthermore, they defined the criteria for the successful installation of smart logistics centers. Dalenogare et al proved that not all the Industry 4.0 technologies are beneficial for industrial performance and that some of the technologies can meet the expectations of industries while others are still in the adoption stage. Goodchild and Toy [18] explained that drone delivery service is the more profitable approach for companies in the future. It also protects the environment from carbon emissions (CO2). Moreover, they compared and explained the pons and cons of both traditional truck and drone delivery options. Wang et al. [19] introduced an integrated IoT-based logistics system (combining the robotics and human coordination) to optimize the dispatching operations. Jeong et al. [20] presented the idea of a humanitarian flying warehouse (HFW) that can be used for parcel delivery. Their goal was to overcome the risks and issues of ground vehicle delivery. Figliozzi [22] compared the efficiency of both AV and ground vehicles used for last-mile delivery. Efficiency was measured in terms of vehicle capacity, range, and CO2 emission. They found that sustainability in the supply chain can only be achieved if they adopt AV for last-mile delivery; however, this delivery system also has some disadvantages. Kirschstein [23] summarized that drone delivery utilizes more energy than the normal conventional electric or diesel ground vehicles.
Manavalan et al. [24] from the literature review proposed a framework that explains the adoption process and benefits of IoT-based systems in the company that led to achieving supply chain sustainability. Yadav et al. [26] developed a framework that provides 22 ways to resolve different challenges SSC faced during the adoption of Industry 4.0. Ojo et al. [27] emphasized that optimization of all the operations in the supply chain is essential to achieve sustainability. For this reason, they bring Industry 4.0 to the food industry. Moreover, You and Feng [28] developed the CPS system to integrate Industry 4.0 technologies with the construction industry to flatter all the processes and pave the path for intelligent construction.
For challenges related to Industry 4.0 and supply chain sustainability, Furstenau et al. [29] provided a literature review about Industry 4.0 and sustainability. They also point out the challenges and issues related to Industry 4.0 implementation in the industry. Chen et al. [30] created the idea of a smart factory in the digital business era. They found core technologies that are required to build the structure of a smart factory for the purpose of increasing efficiency. Meneghello et al. [31] examined the threats associated with IoT-based products and provided their countermeasures to overcome security risks. Xu et al. [32] provided the gathered understanding of current IoT-based systems based on three system aspects which are control, networking, and computing. Weking et al. [33] developed an innovative business model with the integration of Industry 4.0 technologies. They proved that this integrated BM enhances the coordination of all members in the supply chain and led the business to achieve sustainability. Palmaccio et al. [35] found changes in the business process due to the adoption of IoT-based systems. Echchakoui and Barka [36] found that the implementation and installation of Industry 4.0 in the plastic industry is still at the early adoption stage. They also highlighted the issues and obstacles that occur during the adoption of Industry 4.0. Zarzuelo et al. [38] studied the effects of Industry 4.0 technologies on the maritime industry. They concluded that each technology in Industry 4.0 has its benefits and drawbacks; companies should adopt these technologies after analyzing their aftereffects. Li et al. [37] explained the benefits of the digital supply chain on economic and environmental performance to accomplish sustainability in SC. Rosit et al. [39] introduced the CPS-based integrated scheduling system in the company that uses real-time information to enhance the decision-making process and schedule the tasks effectively. Culot et al. [41] through a systematic literature review, compared the different fragmented definitions of Industry 4.0 and creates a more specific definition of Industry 4.0. Reinhardt et al. [42] identified the knowledge of Industry 4.0 in pharmaceutical companies and found that more experienced employees have more knowledge about Industry 4.0; thus, for a better understanding of Industry 4.0, there is a need for training required of all workers and employees in pharmaceutical companies in Ireland. Raj et al. [44] identified 15 barriers in implementing Industry 4.0 in the manufacturing sector. They found that through involvement of company’s peers government bodies, and proper education of these technologies, these barriers can removed.
Lu [47] provided detailed insights of Industry 4.0 applications on industrial sectors to achieve sustainability and achieve a competitive advantage. Choi et al. [48] explained the involvement of Industry 4.0 technologies in the fashion industry that converts it into a sustainable fashion industry. For this, they proposed a framework that explains how sustainability can be achieved in the fashion supply chain. Liotta et al. [49] established the framework that integrates the production and transportation process, which led the company to achieve sustainability in the supply chain. Dossou [50] proposed a new framework that considers sustainability as a key benefit for future factories and integrates sustainability with Industry 4.0. Bai et al. [51] explained that Industry 4.0 technologies have a positive impact on social sustainability. However, each technology should be examined carefully before implementation. Govindan et al. [53] studied sustainability in terms of social, economic, and environmental sustainability. They found that social and environmental sustainability practices have positive impacts on firm operational and financial performance in all industrial sectors. Cole and Aitken [54] identified that intermediates play an important role in building a strong relationship between suppliers and buyers, and led them to attain sustainability in which there is weak sustainability knowledge. Vaio et al. [56] through a literature review, proposed a framework that explains how computer-based technologies (AI) help to achieve SCS.

3. Research Framework

The above section provides detailed insight on the literature through a comparison of the focus, methods, and results of different studies. After a thorough review, we have developed a framework that explains the role of Industry 4.0 technologies in the supply chain process which led companies to achieve supply chain sustainability. This study includes five Industry 4.0 technologies including the smart factory, the Internet of things (IoT), the cyber–physical system, automatic guided vehicle (AGV), and drones.
Figure 9 depicts a clear picture of Industry 4.0 technologies and their inter-connections with the supply chain process. Smart factories and the Internet of things are involved in the order placement and purchasing or sourcing process of the supply chain through the internet connectivity of all the devices and machines. The cyber–physical system (CPS) plays a vital role in smoothening the product planning and scheduling process. Automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) play an important role in the storage and distribution process of the supply chain, and AGVs are responsible for moving the goods from one place to another in the supply chain, especially during production, storage, and distribution processes. Drone delivery is evolving in the product delivery process, which is also called the last-mile delivery process of the supply chain process, to provide better services to customers. Penetration of these Industry 4.0 technologies and the correct use of Industry 4.0 technologies at right time in the supply chain process will lead companies to achieve supply chain sustainability (economic, environmental, and social sustainability). For manufacturing companies, especially for SMEs, it is difficult to accept a technological change, move towards digitalization, and mold their whole value chain. SMEs have limited resources in terms of investment and workforce.
Figure 9. Research framework (author’s compilation).

4. Discussion

In the digital world in which global companies strive to attain competitive advantage, companies need to consider Industry 4.0 in their supply chain network. Technological advancement brings many changes in all industrial sectors and it is the right time for manufacturing companies to alter their supply chain network. Industry 4.0 has the power to disturb the current structure of companies due to its disruptive technologies. In this paper, we highlight the five Industry 4.0 technologies that are more closely related to the supply chain network of the company. Many large companies such as Amazon, Alibaba, and Google are moving towards drone delivery. In China, companies are following the concept of “Made-In-China 2025”.
We found that the adoption of sustainable practices is the point of focus for companies. It shows the good repute of the company because of its sustainability concern. The 22 (40%) out of 55 papers specifically discussed the challenges, benefits, and issues related to SCS. Sustainability can be measured as companies’ efforts towards environmental, social, and economical concerns. Through the literature review, we conclude that environmental and social sustainability can lead a company to enhance its operational performance of the supply chain and ultimately increase profits. However, many factors affect the implementation of Industry 4.0 technologies in companies. It requires a large investment to modify the current production process of the company. Secondly, we found that there is a lack of knowledge, especially in SME’s, concerning Industry 4.0 benefits. Thus, it is necessary to educate employees regarding Industry 4.0 technologies, their installation, and the adoption process.
We have identified that each technology of Industry 4.0 is linked to different stages in the supply chain network. Drone delivery service is linked to the distribution and parcel delivery process of the supply chain. Automatic guided vehicles are used in the production and transportation process of SC. Smart factories enable the company to perform all the tasks with the use of the internet and robotics are used to perform tasks. The CPS system helps in scheduling and decision-making processes due to its use of real-time information of all the processes. Moreover, Industry 4.0 technologies have many benefits such as low labor cost, reduced lead time, increased efficiency, lowered operational cost, and quality of achieving greater sustainability.

This entry is adapted from the peer-reviewed paper 10.3390/su13179544

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