بخشی از مقاله (انگلیسی)
The digitalisation of production driven by new paradigms such as Industry 4.0, factories of the future and smart manufacturing, create new challenges as to how manufacturers and other supply chain actors would discharge their corporate responsibility to respect human rights. These new paradigms enable novel approaches like distributed and collaborative manufacturing. Manufacturers increasingly leverage digital technologies, such as 3D printing, cloud manufacturing and artificial intelligence, to provide customised products. Digital technologies also improve predictive and preventive maintenance on the shop floor and across the supply chain, increasing the overall resilience of manufacturing industries in times of crisis. This article proposes a blueprint of a collaborative, decentralised approach to human rights due diligence in digital supply chains. It argues that the pooling of human rights due diligence efforts in manufacturing industries could have network-wide effects of incentivising value chain actors to also collaborate on providing collective remedy.
The manufacturing of a modern aircraft, like an Airbus A321, is the result of highly efficient cooperation across complex, tightly integrated global supply and manufacturing chains. The process starts with the design and engineering, through production and transport of aircraft sections, to final assembly and tests, certification and delivery to the customer. Growing demand in air travel in the past few decades has naturally increased the production needs. At the same time, fast-paced developments in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry have offered new ways of optimising manufacturing. As a result, the supply chain of modern aircraft production no longer consists of just raw materials, such as steel, aluminium, titanium and their alloys. The deployment of smart sensors on the shop floor and the utilization of automated systems means that supply chains now include also digital assets, such as datasets, computer simulations, digital twins and pre-trained machine learning models.
New models of manufacturing are enabled by concepts like distributed, collaborative and additive manufacturing. At the same time, they also create distinct challenges as to how manufacturers and the various actors in their supply chains could discharge their corporate responsibility to respect human rights. It has become widely accepted that businesses do have a corporate responsibility to respect human rights. The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (‘Guiding Principles’) promote this responsibility as a global standard of expected conduct from business enterprises, regardless of their size, sector, operational context, ownership or structure.1 Thus, from manufacturers to service-providing enterprises, all actors in the value chain are subject to the same responsibility.2 In this sense, the corporate responsibility to respect human rights applies equally to enterprises engaged in traditional manufacturing as well as those in smart manufacturing driven by the developments in so-called Industry 4.0.
Collaborative smart manufacturing in Industry 4.0 represents a significant shift in the convention manufacturing paradigm. The vertical and horizontal integration of actors in the supply chain leads to the emergence of new business relationships entailing new potential adverse human rights impacts. It is beyond doubt that business entities have a corporate responsibility to respect human rights. A main tool to discharge this responsibility, human rights due diligence is premised on the idea that it is within the business enterprise's control to prevent or mitigate human rights impacts at the beginning of a new business relationship or activity. This assumption, however, is challenged by technological and organisational processes within Industry 4.0 which are based on complex real-time network interactions and data-driven autonomous decision-making. In this new collaborative environment, the manufacturer becomes one of many actors in a network, along with the customer. This gives rise to new potential aggregate adverse human rights impacts at the level of the ecosystem which cannot be sufficiently addressed by any single actor alone.