Since the beginning of tools, humans have been looking for more innovative and more productive ways to get jobs done. We invented wheels to move things farther and faster, electricity to power work, and are now creating machines that can think and predict what we may need from them.

With every successful implementation and adoption of a tool, labour forces changed and had to learn new skills. And with every advancement in machinery and automation, workers have protested in fear of being replaced. But in truth, technical advancements have gone hand in hand with increased employment.

In truth, the future of work is expected to be a much more collaborative experience. Meet sustainable automation. No, not automation that increases the sustainability of production or consumption, although that is a small component. Sustainable automation is the convergence of human capital and technology to fill talent gaps and give talent mobility through technology training.

sustainable automation definition

Read on to find out how sustainable automation is transforming a variety of industries, and how small businesses can make the investment.


In manufacturing, many companies are taking advantage of AIs in logistics, supply chain management, factory automation, process automation, and more. Requirements for top manufacturers are shifting as consumers are being more conscious about their consumption and looming recessions are tightening purse strings.

Instead of lowering costs through high minimums, manufacturers are being challenged by the desire for more customization and variety desired. Looking to diversify your product offerings as a small manufacturer? Consider investing in machines that allow for additive manufacturing,  enhanced use of sensors, flexible end-effectors, advanced integrated peripheries and easy programming methods.

How does sustainable automaton play in? When upskilling your workforce, make sure you invest well in training specific to the machines that you are bringing on. The ideal process for automating your workflow includes; designing the workflow, unit testing, changing & adapt with troubleshooting & ROI calculations, and finishing with synchronizing the steps in your overall flow.

Remember that this is a big process with a lot of moving parts. If you have a small facility, consider starting off with a machine for training and slowly investing in more as your customer demand rises.

AI in Factory Automation

In factory automation, AIs control and optimize production line processes, improving product quality and reducing waste by identifying and correcting errors. By allowing robots to do more dangerous jobs, implementing sensors and data analytics are allowing employers to increase safety measures, search for production bottlenecks, and so much more. 

As with all business initiatives, it’s important to set clear automation goals before you start looking into the potential of automation. Full automation cannot be achieved by small random implementations by individuals, so look for practical, scalable solutions. But, that’s not to say don’t trust your team and allow them to run with the solutions you find. If you leave implementation to one team alone, it’ll be harder to achieve organizational buy-in and may bottleneck the onboarding process.

Supply Chain Management

In supply chain management, AIs monitor and predict raw material and finished product demand patterns. This helps companies plan their production to meet customer needs without delays, or allocate limited resources based on the impact of 100s of data points. 

The more data you and the AI have, the more powerful the impact. You can even go so far as to manage predictive maintenance, demand shocks, and transportation disruptions with the right tools.

Food & Beverage

Just like in manufacturing, there are hundreds, if not thousands of ways that AI can be integrated into operations to improve efficiency and quality control. This industry has lagged behind other manufacturing areas in Automation implementation, but increasing labour force problems and large changes to supply chains are making automation necessary for companies to ensure long-term competitiveness.

ai and sustainable automation in food and beverage

Food Market Analysis

Short shelf life, transportation requirements such as refrigeration, and ever-changing consumer demands make supply chain logistics in food & beverage a complex matter. With the help of AI, generating food market analytics can be done quickly and accurately. This allows companies to make better decisions when it comes to pricing, marketing, and product development.

Waste Reduction

In the food & beverage industry, automation also reduces waste. Automation is used in growing all types of crops, from watering to pesticides. AI & drones are the ultimate matches for agriculture. 

Improving the quality of what we grow, quickly processing foods, and helping reduce the time from harvest to store shelves helps perishables get to consumers with more time to spare, and hopefully means there will be less error resulting in spoiled perishables.

Food Hygiene

Food safety management systems (FSMSs) are used worldwide to provide an integrated strategy that includes procedures, training, and monitoring to prevent food safety hazards and minimize risks and recalls. AI is starting to be integrated into these procedures for predictive analytics, as well as into the food treatment process itself. Training machines to regularly test for bacteria and foodborne illnesses during production and processing mean that we can stop safety hazards before they get to consumers.


Retail is a complex and cutthroat landscape. Companies are always looking for a competitive edge. In brick and mortar, virtual reality, automating inventory control, contactless stores, and smart changing rooms that allow you to communicate with a stylist to bring a different size are all being implemented around North America.

Omnichannel retailing has been talked about for a little over a decade, and as retailers implement more customer monitoring and touchpoints, they can further customize each customer’s shopping experience. A store may no longer have to carry large inventories. Warehouses in centralized locations can deliver products to the customer’s door that they tried on in-store by the time they finish lunch.

Online, automation in marketing, ai that optimizes each user’s shopping feed, and augmented reality for colour tests are giving consumers more ways to find the best products.

sustainable automation in retail graphic

Expanding Your Start-Up

Looking to take your start-up to the next level? Canada is a great gateway to the North American market. We have 15 Free Trade Agreements, giving our businesses access to over 1.5 billion consumers, who account for over 61% of the world GDP. 

BHive is Brampton’s premier start-up incubator for international founders looking to expand their start-ups internationally. As a designated partner for the Start-Up Visa Program, we help you and your immediate family move here and grow your business. Our tailored program gives you mentorship, access to capital networks and talent, and so much more. Apply today!