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The following content is sponsored by ASE Global
ASE Industry 4.0 Manufacturing in the Digital Era Main
It might sound futuristic, but the Fourth Industrial Revolution—also known as Industry 4.0—has already begun.
Following the Industrial Revolution’s steam power, electrification in the 1800s, and the Digital Revolution of the late 20th century, Industry 4.0’s innovative smart technology is unlocking the next steps in automation.
So what does the next major evolution of manufacturing look like? This graphic from ASE Global breaks down the rollout of Industry 4.0, from increased robotization to lights-out manufacturing.
Each industrial revolution has built on what came before, incorporating new technologies and knowledge of manufacturing. Industry 4.0 has four core principles paving the way:
Combining these principles is what makes the ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution unique. Much of the underlying technology has been available for decades, including robotics and networks, but properly using them together unlocks a massive stride in manufacturing capabilities.
Already, the market size for Industry 4.0 specific technology was estimated to be $116.1 billion in 2021. By 2028, it’s projected to grow almost three times to $337.1 billion, with core components leading the way.
These technologies are already being rolled out in smart factories around the globe, and the most robust and up-to-date versions are being used to unlock the next evolution: lights-out manufacturing.
Where traditional factories and even smart factories require some direct human interaction, true lights-out factories operate completely autonomously.
Though it might sound like a dream, lights-out factories are fully automated, 24/7 factories with no on-floor human presence. And they already exist in the modern world.
Japanese robotics designer FANUC has been using robots to build themselves in a lights-out factory for 20 years, and even electronics company Philips uses 128 robots in a lights-out manufacturing line to produce electric razors.
One industry that uses lights-out manufacturing extensively is semiconductor manufacturing. ASE Global, the world’s leading provider of semiconductor manufacturing services in assembly and test, used 18 completely automated factories in 2020 alone.
Different businesses and industries will be able to utilize Industry 4.0 technologies in different capacities, and lights-out manufacturing is no different.
Though incorporating fully autonomous factories can unlock huge potential, there are also significant challenges to first overcome.
Which industries will implement lights-out manufacturing? New robot installations in 2019 show that the automotive, electronics, and metal and machinery sectors are unsurprisingly leading the way in Industry 4.0 implementation.
As 4.0 technology improves and costs decrease, the implementation of lights-out capabilities is expected to surge.
A global survey of businesses for their 2025 production plans show that 17% are anticipating having completely lights-out manufacturing, while 79% of manufacturing will be human-driven but digitally-augmented to some degree.
And like other industrial revolutions before, the technological rollout quickly creates a snowball effect that speeds its growth:
Many industries are capable of benefiting from 5G, IoT, and more robust usage of data and machines in some way. The question of when your sector will see Industry 4.0 is either sooner than you think, or it has already begun.
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Fixed income ETFs are a go-to tool for institutional investors. Find out why professionals use them in this graphic.
Download the ETF Snapshot for free.
When market volatility surges, fixed income investors encounter multiple pressure points. For example, they may face difficulties with liquidity, price discovery, and transaction costs.
In this infographic from iShares, we show how fixed income ETFs help address these challenges. It’s the second in a five-part series covering key insights from the ETF Snapshot, a comprehensive report on how institutional investors manage volatility.
To assess the role that ETFs play, Institutional Investor published a report in 2021 based on a survey of 766 decision makers. Respondents were from various types of organizations, firm sizes, and regions.
For instance, here is how responses broke down by location:
Here’s what the survey found.
During 2020 market volatility, the vast majority of institutional investors said they had difficulty sourcing (95%) and/or transacting (92%) in individual bonds.
Smaller firms faced these roadblock more often than larger institutions.
How did institutional investors overcome these liquidity challenges?
More than half of institutions increased their use of ETFs as they looked to source, price, and transact bonds. In fact, in the first three months of 2020, fixed income ETF trading volume reached $1.3 trillion—half of 2019’s total.
ETFs also became more popular relative to their underlying basket of securities. During extreme volatility in April 2020, ETF trading volume relative to the underlying securities was three times higher than the 2019-2020 average.
With their higher liquidity, ETFs also helped institutional investors with price discovery.
“When there was no trading activity in certain corporate bonds, you can use the ETFs as a pretty good proxy for what people are willing to pay and what the appetite is.”
—Senior Analyst, Asset Management firm
However, the usefulness of fixed income ETFs goes far beyond liquidity.

Want more institutional insights into ETFs?
ETF Snapshot
Download The ETF Snapshot for free.

Institutional investors said fixed income ETFs were a good replacement for individual bonds for a number of reasons.
The difference in transaction costs is particularly evident in the fixed income landscape. During extreme market volatility in March 2020, the bid-ask spread* for the iShares High Yield Corporate Bond ETF was 48 times smaller than the underlying securities.
* A bid-ask spread measures the difference between what an investor is willing to buy a fund for (the bid price) and the price an investor is willing to sell for (the ask price). A smaller bid-ask spread indicates greater cost efficiency.
In light of these attributes, fixed income ETFs are a go-to tool for institutional investors. In fact, they were top-rated for a number of use cases.
One senior analyst at an asset management firm noted that it was easy to get granular with asset allocation because there are so many ETFs with plenty of liquidity.
As of May 2021, fixed income ETFs made up 18% of all ETF assets under management. It’s likely that their role could become more prominent in the future.
For instance, 34% of institutional investors are likely to increase their use of fixed income ETFs going forward. One thing is evident: fixed income ETFs have proven to be flexible tools, especially during heightened market volatility.
​​Download the ETF snapshot for free.
Forests are vital carbon sinks, soaking up about 40% of all emissions annually. Here is the carbon storage of ecosystems around the world.
Each year, the world’s forests absorb roughly 15.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2).
To put it in perspective, that’s around three times the annual CO2 emissions of the U.S. or about 40% of global CO2 emissions. For this reason, forests serve as a vital tool in regulating the global temperature and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
In this graphic sponsored by Carbon Streaming Corporation, we look at the Earth’s natural carbon sinks, and break down their carbon storage.
Forests contain several carbon sinks, from living biomass such as roots and leaves to soil. In fact, soil contains nearly twice as much carbon than the atmosphere, plant, and animal life combined.
The soil type, vegetation, and climate all affect how carbon is stored. For example, colder and wetter climates promote the most effective carbon storage in soil.

Global Carbon Storage* (Tonnes of carbon per hectare) Vegetation Soil
Wetlands 43 643
Boreal forests 64 344
Temperate grasslands 7 236
Tundra 6 127
Tropical forests 120 123
Tropical savannas 29 117
Temperate forests 57 96
Croplands 2 80
Deserts and semideserts
2 42

*Average stored carbon in tonnes per hectare at a ground depth of one meter
Source: IPCC
Wetlands are substantial reservoirs of carbon. Despite occupying only 5-8% of the Earth’s land surface, they hold between 20 to 30% of all estimated organic soil carbon.
Around 8.1 billion tonnes of CO2 leaks back into the atmosphere each year.
Over the last 20 years, the world has lost about 10% of its tree cover, or 411 million hectares (Mha). The main causes behind this are forestry (119 Mha), commodity-driven deforestation (103 Mha), and wildfires (89 Mha). What’s more, research suggests that Amazon rainforests emit more carbon than they absorb due to record levels of fires, many of which are deliberately set to clear for commodity production.
With the increasing frequency of wildfires and deforestation, the world’s forests are at risk of releasing carbon. Protecting and preserving these biomes is critical to the Earth’s carbon balance and mitigating climate change.
Given the risk of losing critical carbon sinks, carbon credits play an important role in preserving these ecosystems.
Carbon credits can help finance projects that reduce or remove GHG emissions from the atmosphere. From improved forest management to reforestation, there are a number of different types of carbon projects across wetlands, grasslands, and various forests:
For instance, a carbon credit project may preserve endangered tropical lowland peat swamp forests spanning thousands of hectares, such as the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve Project in Indonesia, one of the projects that Carbon Streaming has a carbon credit stream.
Through this project, forests are prevented from being converted into palm oil plantations to reduce and avoid 130 million tonnes of GHG emissions during the 30 years of the project.
Another example would be the Cerrado Biome Project in Brazil, another carbon offset project where Carbon Streaming has a stream agreement. This project is protecting and preserving native forests and grasslands from being converted to commercial agriculture.
Importantly, these projects would not be economically viable without the sale of carbon credits.
To prevent further loss of stored carbon, government policies, NGO-led initiatives, and the financing of carbon offset projects are gaining momentum. Taken together, they offer the critical intervention needed to preserve the earth’s carbon vaults.
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