Enhancing sustainability and energy efficiency in smart factories: A review

Yuquan Meng, Yuhang Yang, Haseung Chung, Pil Ho Lee, Chenhui Shao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the rapid development of sensing, communication, computing technologies, and analytics techniques, today's manufacturing is marching towards a new generation of sustainability, digitalization, and intelligence. Even though the significance of both sustainability and intelligence is well recognized by academia, industry, as well as governments, and substantial efforts are devoted to both areas, the intersection of the two has not been fully exploited. Conventionally, studies in sustainable manufacturing and smart manufacturing have different objectives and employ different tools. Nevertheless, in the design and implementation of smart factories, sustainability, and energy efficiency are supposed to be important goals. Moreover, big data based decision-making techniques that are developed and applied for smart manufacturing have great potential in promoting the sustainability of manufacturing. In this paper, the state-of-the-art of sustainable and smart manufacturing is first reviewed based on the PRISMA framework, with a focus on how they interact and benefit each other. Key problems in both fields are then identified and discussed. Specially, different technologies emerging in the 4th industrial revolution and their dedications on sustainability are discussed. In addition, the impacts of smart manufacturing technologies on sustainable energy industry are analyzed. Finally, opportunities and challenges in the intersection of the two are identified for future investigation. The scope examined in this paper will be interesting to researchers, engineers, business owners, and policymakers in the manufacturing community, and could serve as a fundamental guideline for future studies in these areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4779
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 14 2018


  • Big data
  • Decision-making
  • Energy efficiency
  • Smart factory
  • Smart manufacturing
  • Sustainability
  • Sustainable manufacturing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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