Digital Technologies & Business Model Innovation for Circular Economy (Essay Sample)
Digital technologies and business model innovation for the circular economy
Most of the current production and consumption systems are linear, adopting a “take, make and dispose” model and thereby contributing to the depletion of natural resources. To achieve sustainable growth, firms need to shift from linear to circular economy models. Circular economy refers to an industrial system that is “restorative and regenerative by design” according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The circular economy requires firms to develop disruptive technologies or business models that can improve the circularity of the supply chains through activities of reduce, reuse, remanufacturing, refurbishment and recycling. Also, making supply chains circular cannot be achieved by a specific firm. It requires collaboration between organisations across the supply chains and other stakeholders from similar and/or diverse sectors.
This project will investigate how to use disruptive digital technologies (e.g. internet of things, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, 3D printing and cloud computing) to achieve circular economy; and which new business models and innovation strategies are required for circular economy. The project will also develop practical tools to support intelligent design of circular economy models.
Digital technologies involve the electronic tools and the systems that primarily function to enhance generation as the processing of data. Therefore, digital technologies use the aspect of technology. Additionally, disruptive digital technologies mainly aim at enhancing diversified and dynamic approaches in the functionality of the company or a country. This is because disruptive technology interferes with the operation of the businesses as well the overall functionality of the industry. In this paper, we will mainly focus on the investigating how the disruptive digital technologies and the innovations as well as the practical uses of each of the digital technologies that include; cloud computing, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and internet of things are used in the current world status to enhance the achievement of the circular economy. Moreover, in a circular economy, the main aim is the reduction of the amount of waste produced as well as enhancing fair and proper use of the available resources. Hence, the circular economy focuses on the reusing, remanufacturing as well as recycling of the produces. Additionally, we will also target the upcoming models in business as well as the innovative strategies that are needed in the context on a circular economy. We will also develop some of the relevant practical tools that are mainly used in the models of the circular economy and that usually aids in creative designing. Acceleration as well as the scaling of the circular economy would aid development of the economy at global levels. Additionally, the circular economy requires the assistance of the business models that include; the advancements in the technology, new innovations and ensuring that the different stakeholders partake collective action. Moreover, with the changes in the world and the developments, the resources are reducing at a higher percentage, hence, it is important to implement the circular economy with the business models.
Business models in the circular economy
The main aim of business models in the circular economy is to aid in the reshaping of the business operations as well as in the systems involved in the economy. The business models involved in the circular economy are mainly to facilitate that there is generation of new incomes, transformation of the relationships in business, protection of the economy against the wastage of resources. Additionally, they aid in the contribution to growth as well as sustainability of the business and business models also aids in offering new opportunities in the commercial sectors. Some of the examples of the models used in the circular economy business models include; leasing and hiring of products, performance and servicing of the system, management of the assets and consumption collaborative. Additionally, companies use models to enhance the proper transition to circular economy such as circular supplies, recovery of the resources, and extension of the product life, platform sharing and viewing of the products as services.
Disruptive digital technologies
Artificial intelligence (AI) involves copying the functionality of human beings by the machines to aid in solving as well as learning of the problems. Therefore, artificial intelligence is normally through computers as well as other compatible machines. It is important to note that unlike the human beings’ brain, the machines are more flexible agents in the perception of the information as well as storage of information. Additionally, machines operate through the taking up of command, which is necessary for undertaking the effective action for the task required. Therefore, the use of the latest technologies in the provision of effective learning processes as well gathering of reliable information in the implementation of the circular economy is essential. Hence, artificial intelligence plays a vital role in enhancing that the shift to the circular economy is systematic. Moreover, artificial intelligence aids in facilitating that the skills and the capabilities of the people are improved since AI complements the competence of human functionality. With the aid of the AI dealing with the complex situation is easier and the growth of initiatives that aid in the creation of the opportunities that focus on addressing the challenges across the globe are put in place. AI aids in the acceleration of the adoption of the circular economy this is because AI helps in the designing of products and components that are circular through the machines used in the iterative designing and prototyping. Secondly, AI helps in magnifying the circular models through enhancing that there is an increment in the circulation of the products and adequate utilization of the assets. Thirdly, AI aids in the optimization of the circular infrastructure through the improvement of the processes used for the products (Russell & Norvig 2016). The innovation in the AI includes the AI-Based cybersecurity, which aids in enhancing that there is a reduction in threats, especially highly sensitive information. Additionally, the AI diagnostics which are mainly under the medical technology for the X-Rays (Bocken et al. 2016).
Internet of things
Internet of things (IoT) can be defined as the representations that are virtual in nature as well as objects that are identifiable on the internet. Internet of things aids in the provision of the necessary insights on the ongoing activities with the products, the customers as well as the overall operations. Therefore, through the aid of the electronic sensors, internet of things helps in the collection and the exchanging of data with the aid of physical devices that are internetworking. Therefore, there is a great connection between the internet of things and the enhancement of the circular economy. IoT functions to enhance that the resources are efficiently used through the use of automatics as well as remote monitoring of the resources from the beginning of the cycle until the end of the cycle. Additionally, IoT helps in retrieval of the assets through enhancing that they are recycled. Retrieval of assets aids in enhancing that there is an effective logistics reverse as well as the nutrients used from the environment are minimal. Internet of things facilitates the circular economy to develop since with the IoT effectively, there is proper functioning of the circular economy, unlike when the IoT is absent. IoT enables that there is the fusion of the digital technologies and manufacturing, hence, providing an efficient platform for the creation of products that can effectively signal any defects or problems as well as determine when the problem should be fixed. Therefore, aiding in the transformation of the economy and the creation of major benefits in society (Lin et al. 2017). The innovations under the internet of things include the zero mass water’s functioning in the entertainment sector or the commerce sector. Secondly, Bell’s four-passenger UAV taxi that has been equipped with the experience of the driver. The application of the internet of things in the day to day activities include the use of google homes where one can easily search on the topics and obtain the best results. Secondly, there is the use of Ecobee, which is a smart thermostat that aids in the control of temperatures. Additionally, there is the use of Neurio that functions as smart home devices where they collect the data and enhance the provision of accurate readings of energy (De Los Rios & Charnley 2017).
3D printing can be defined as the manufacturing process that contains additive methods. Therefore, 3D printing normally uses the blueprints from files that are digital or enable scanning of three-dimensional objects. Additionally, it involves uploading of the images into the digital files and finally enhances that the images are rendered in the form of layers. Moreover, the 3D printer functions by the use of resins or materials that are liquefied. The production of a 3D printer is not a copy, but a widget, hence the liquefied materials are converted into printed structures through the process of hardening. Moreover, 3D printers normally use one material, but the final object in bulk. This means that it is convenient and economical to use the 3D printers in the production process. The materials produced by the 3D printers can also be recycled several times; however, the transformation of the materials normally requires energy. Consequently, 3D printers can readily use solar panels because it uses electricity to run. Thus, 3D printing is essential in the process of converting physical materials to a succession of layers. This is relevant to the circular economy since 3D printing involves multiple recycling as well as there is minimal use of resources, and the waste produced is also minimal, unlike other printers. Companies such as Mercedes Benz and Ford have gradually transformed into 3D printing, and based on their reports, there is a decrease in the costs of operations and an increase in the profits earned. In the current world, 3D is used in the repair of the economy. This is because 3D printing helps in the fixing of the products through the production of the obsolete parts (Ngo et al. 2018). The innovations under the 3D printing include the XYZ printing where there is full coloring is the 3D print. Secondly, there is the Polaroid, which is a play smart 3D printer. Additionally, there are the elastic resins which are softer than the previous resins. The practical application of the 3D printer is during the molding of the jewelry as well as in the shaping of the gifts, especially in the customizable gift industry. 3D printing is also used in the shaping of the metals and the plastics (Geissdoerfer et al. 2017).
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