Main challenge to the Industry 4.0
For many traditional, labour-intensive industries, as in the case of most European E-Waste recycling companies, the rapid digitalization of the world and the professional sphere is a situation that is difficult to embrace but one we must face. Any transformation is usually a long and tough process, being clearly the case of the digital transformation, which requires a clear strategic vision and open-minded leaders who are ready for a change in the company.
Clearly, the 4.0 transformation takes the emphasis on implemented digital technology to a whole new level with the help of interconnectivity through the Internet of Things (IoT), access to real-time data, etc. Theoretically, having the right information at the proper time to make the correct decision is the main objective.
However, the key transformation is the connection between the physical and the digital, which allows better collaboration and access between people, partners, departments, suppliers, and products. It is a process that does not change what is done but the way of doing it.
Then, the critical change introduced by Industry 4.0 is not exactly in the production or recycling phase but in the innovation of the business model. It is a holistic approach that has human development as its axis. Recycling needs transformation in its internal culture.
New training is needed, as well as new digital skills and new professional profiles that allow all phases of the data work process to be tackled with guarantees. Moreover, the companies need to be transformed rapidly. The current feeling of vulnerability comes from this required speed, because from the transformation of an agrarian society to an industrial one the change was linear, but the current acceleration is exponential so far.
In this way, the electrical and electronical waste recycling sector needs to double speed because two main reasons: the first, due to E-Waste being the fastest growing waste stream in the world; and the second, the sector needs to be able to change its culture at the same level of other industrial sectors to survive.
The big question is: How can it be done? Some proposals are the following: investing much more in skilled people, creativity and innovation, and new markets.
This is the human challenge facing digital transformation in our industries.