Industry 4.0: IoT & Environment

Dipta Dey

16 September, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Industry 4.0: IoT & Environment

We are living in the era of Industry 4.0 where industrial practices and manufacturing mostly done by automation process with the help of latest smart technologies. In which direction our world is going? This is for sure that we can’t go back to the 20th century; we have to move towards the end of 21st century and farther. So, we have to take the advantages of this era for a better life as well as have to think about how we can use these latest technologies for protecting and monitoring our environment.

Industry 4.0 related with technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), creating smart factory, cloud and cognitive computing. IoT and IIoT can take part in the protection of environment. Like other sectors, the role of IoT and IIoT in sustainable development and environment protection will be crucial in the coming years. The only disunity between these two concepts is while IoT is most commonly used for consumer usage, IIoT is used for industrial purpose such as manufacturing, supply chain monitor and management system. It is more earmarked than the broader term Industry 4.0.IIoT refers to automation system, sensor data and machine communications. 

Let’s think a little bit more about how eventually this is going to help us to protect our environment as we can’t go back to old technologies and era. From where is waste generated? We have to think from cradle to grave of a product where for simple understanding we can say industry is the cradle for a product and consumer is grave of that product as he/she is responsible for dispose or discharge of that product. Therefore, if we can apply and use IIoT in the segment of industry and IoT in the segment of consumer properly we can be able to reduce power consumption at both segments with power efficient latest smart technologies which ultimately take part in the reduction of carbon dioxide emission, can also monitor environmental pollution precisely which can help in take proper environmental management. At the same time, production cost would be less i.e., things that are easily available and cheap today was not the same 5-10 years ago. Those were not readily available and not so cheap like now.

IoT allows operations to remove much of the human intervention in system function, farming analysis, and monitoring. Systems detect changes to crops, soil, environment, and more. They optimise standard processes through analysis of large, rich data collections. They also prevent health hazards (e.g., e. coli) from happening and allow better control. The applications of IoT in environmental protection and monitoring are broad − environmental protection, real time detection of wildlife, marine organisms protection through GPS readings and toll data, IoT-powered smart home devices, machine-to-machine or machine-to-man (M2M) for better waste management, wastewater and sewerage monitoring system foe wastewater management, extreme weather monitoring, water safety, endangered species protection, commercial farming, and more. In these applications, sensors detect and measure every type of environmental change.

But a question arises as regards the negative impact of IoT on environment. IoT devices will produce and send a significant amount of data. All that data will require energy as it passes through the network. On top of that, many of these devices will run on batteries. The more frequently batteries need to be replaced, the more of them will end up in landfills. Billions of Internet of “Things” mean billions of batteries. So, what can we do? Reject those latest technologies? What is the reality? Can we survive in this present world without technology? Let’s take a look at Environmental Kuznet’s Cruve (EKC) which shows the interrelationship between development and environment.

We know the hypothesis about EKC which was first advanced by economist Simon Kuznets in the 1950s and 1960s. The environmental Kuznets curve suggests that economic development initially leads to deterioration in the environment, but after a certain level of economic growth, a society begins to improve its relationship with the environment and levels of environmental degradation reduces.

Maybe now we are in the stage of developing this technological era, internet of things that generated negative environmental impacts. But we need to wait for the final solution which can reduce environmental degradation after a certain level so that we can support the huge world population with better and easier life as well as maintain environmental sustainability better from now. We should take this era of Industry 4.0 positively and have to think more and more about how we can maximise production but minimise its negative impact with the help of smart modern technologies and upcoming future technologies.


Dipta Dey is a student of Environmental Science, University of Chittagong.