The Industry 4.0 concept refers to the so-called fourth industrial revolution, which involves digital transformation of the industry with the integration and digitization of all the industrial processes that make up the value chain. The proper integration of the technologies that industry 4.0 offers, enable significant benefits such as greater productivity and better resource management, more efficient decision making based on real information, optimal and integrated production processes, increased flexibility to achieve massive and personalized production in real time, reduction of operational time and reduction of defects percentage in factories. Therefore, Industry 4.0 is characterized by adaptability, flexibility and efficiency.
The current ‘linear economy’ where everyday products are made, used and disposed should no longer work for businesses, society or environment, as earth’s raw materials are not limitless. Nowadays, there is a need for finding a new path of economic development that includes dealing with waste generation. Hence, there is a need for a transition into a new circular business model that recycles and reuses such waste with the objective of transforming it into higher value-added products to meet the current demands of society.
The integration of I4.0 technologies with circular economy practices have the capacity to significantly reduce natural resources consumption. New and innovative solutions could make possible to extract even more raw materials, especially critical raw materials, from waste components in order to return them to the cycle. Thus, becoming circular in industrial settings not only involves saving a considerable amount of time, raw materials and consequently, money. It also opens all kinds of opportunities to innovation. To progress in this path, the recycling plant of the future should integrate all kind of I4.0 solutions, having as a result a smart plant, capable of easily adapting to changes in the composition and quantity of the materials to be treated and ensuring at the same time workers safety, avoiding human contact with waste as much as possible. HR-Recycler will help Indumetal in this approach, since it will create a hybrid collaboration environment, where humans and robots will harmoniously share and undertake at the same time different processing and manipulation tasks.
This is not only an improvement for the company’s competitiveness but it is also a step forward towards improving the WEEE collection rate in the European Union. For instance, in 2017, the collection rate of WEEE was 46 % in the EU and its recycling rate was 38,8 %. These rates are no longer acceptable for transitioning EU industry into a circular economy model.
In Indumetal we believe that circular economy strategies are the key for successfully implementing Industry 4.0, at the same time that Industry 4.0 provides technology to activates those strategies.