Enhancing circularity in supply chains through IIoT: An investigation into the role of data & technology

In the era of digital business administration, the convergence of data and technology is paving the way for innovative solutions in various domains. One such promising area is the integration of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to foster circularity within supply chains.

Enhancing circularity in supply chains through IIoT: An investigation into the role of data & technology
Explore how integrating IIoT technologies into circular supply chains is not only enhancing sustainability practices but also paving the way for more resilient and efficient manufacturing processes across various industries. (Source: Cisco)

The topics of my master's thesis delve into integrating the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) within circular supply chains in the manufacturing industry. It assesses how IIoT technologies can be leveraged to enhance sustainability and identifies the main barriers to effective integrations. This research bridges the gap between technological potential and practical implementation to offer insights into how digital technologies can drive the transition towards a circular economy.

The topic is highly relevant for practitioners in the manufacturing sector and beyond as it addresses pressing environmental concerns through innovative technological solutions. By focusing on IIoT within circular supply chains, the study highlights how businesses can improve efficiency, reduce waste and achieve sustainability goals. This is crucial in an era where both environmental regulations are tightening and consumer expectations for ethical business practices are intensifying.

The study reveals several key challenges that manufacturers face in adopting IIoT for circular supply chain initiatives which include technical knowledge gaps, coordination difficulties with external partners and internal resistance to change. Despite these challenges, the research identifies effective strategies such as enhancing transparency, fostering data sharing, and implementing small-scale pilot projects to facilitate the integration of new IIoT technologies.

Implications for practitioners

  • Emphasize the need to build technical capabilities and training within the organization to leverage IIoT technologies effectively.
  • Highlight the importance of collaborative projects with technology partners to enhance the scalability of IIoT solutions.
  • Recommend the adoption of standardized practices to simplify integration across diverse operational platforms and systems.
  • Suggest integrating real-time data tracking to improve decision-making and operational transparency.
  • Encourage the development of new business models that align with sustainability goals and IIoT capabilities.

The thesis methodology involved a qualitative research approach. Semi-structured interviews with industry professionals including supply chain managers, sustainability officers and IT specialists were conducted. These interviews were transcribed, translated, and analyzed using thematic analysis to identify patterns and insights related to the adoption of IIoT in circular supply chains. This approach provided a comprehensive understanding of the practical challenges and opportunities to ensure that the findings are grounded in real-world experiences and applications.