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Industry 4.0 and supply chain sustainability: framework and future research directions

Surajit Bag (Department of Procurement, Tega Industries South Africa Pty Ltd, Brakpan, South Africa)
Arnesh Telukdarie (Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa)
J.H.C. Pretorius (Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa)
Shivam Gupta (Indian Institute of Management Sambalpur, Burla, India)

Benchmarking: An International Journal

ISSN: 1463-5771

Article publication date: 20 December 2018

Issue publication date: 21 May 2021




The evolution of technology from the most recent industrial age to the technology era better known as Industry 4.0 resulted in greater demand for horizontal, vertical and end-to-end digital integration. Prior studies show that Industry 4.0 adoption majorly influences the sustainability aspects in a supply chain network. The purpose of this paper is to identify the Industry 4.0 enablers of supply chain sustainability and further attempt to propose a research framework to bridge the theoretical gaps.


In this research study, the authors have used a systematic literature review methodology in the field of Industry 4.0 and sustainable supply chain management. The list of papers was downloaded from Scopus ( database. Through strict screening, only journal papers were selected for conducting the review of the literature.


The review brings out some interesting findings which will be helpful for the research community. There have been limited research in the area of managing supply chain network sustainability through Industry 4.0 technologies. The authors found only 10 papers out of a total of 53 papers which emphasize on smart manufacturing, smart production system, smart warehouse management system, smart logistics and sustainability. Most of the previous research studies have ignored the social aspects of supply chain sustainability. Finally, the authors identified 13 key enablers of Industry 4.0 playing an important role in driving supply chain sustainability.

Practical implications

The strategies for Industry 4.0 should be refined and detailed to develop economic and social systems that can act flexibly to sudden changes in the system. Top management must be convinced for prioritizing investment support and creating a system that can facilitate technology convergence. Managers must also act on new models of employment and frame plans to continuously improve the system. In addition, managers must focus on establishing a collaborative platform to facilitate high-tech research and developments. Finally, it is essential to develop a performance management system for monitoring all actions in the supply chain network.


Integrating two independent subjects is the uniqueness of the current study. Here, Industry 4.0 and supply chain sustainability have been integrated to build the research framework, and in such a process, the authors have extended the existing knowledge base.



Bag, S., Telukdarie, A., Pretorius, J.H.C. and Gupta, S. (2021), "Industry 4.0 and supply chain sustainability: framework and future research directions", Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol. 28 No. 5, pp. 1410-1450.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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