Our mission

Zero4 is a Konecranes-led €70 million research and innovation program that is part of Business Finland’s “Veturi” initiative, where Finnish companies are invited to solve some of society's most pressing challenges through research, development and innovation in Finland.

Zero4 aims to tackle two major challenges: the climate change impact of material flows and the declining productivity of industrial companies in developed countries. To achieve this mission, the Zero4 program aims to  minimize the four main deficiencies of industrial systems: information barriers, GHG emissions, energy and accidents.

Zero4 vision is a unified material flow that seamlessly tracks, orchestrates, visualizes and optimizes the flow of material and intralogistics equipment fleets. The platform will ensure that needed material or equipment is always available at the right place at the right time, as efficiently as possible. Research and new commercial solutions are developed together with ecosystem partners, universities, research institutes and customers.

The purpose of the program is not to replace humans by automation, but instead modify the industrial operating environment and related information flows to support humans at the center of operations.


Our mission

Program background

Why did we initiate the program?

Industrial productivity growth has slowed down in developed countries during the past years, which has major implications for the global economy. However, the world not only faces the challenge of stagnating industrial productivity, but also the increasing need for energy as well as rising resource consumption and emissions.

Businesses have a central role in solving this challenge. The majority of the previous industrial productivity increase can be attributed to investments in more efficient equipment, automation and enterprise resource planning systems. However, this growth potential has now been utilized and new innovations are needed.

All production processes require the moving of raw material and products. Transportation of these in any value-adding industrial activity, from assembly plants to hospitals to ports, is called a material flow. The cost of the material flows resulting from moving raw materials and products is close to 10% of companies’ turnover. In addition, material flows account for approximately 5.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and account for 40% of injuries in the manufacturing industry. Therefore, making material flows more efficient, safe, and sustainable will have a major positive impact on industrial productivity and reduction of GHG emissions.


Program background

Program themes

Information Barriers

Information barriers refer to the currently widespread miscommunication or lack of any connection between humans, equipment and various control systems that exist in and between plants and ports. As these actors are not connected, it is not possible to optimize material flows to a meaningful degree. There is currently no single system connecting all material flow equipment and humans.

Removing information barriers means creating a material flow platform that can detect and instruct every single actor in the material flow. Removing information barriers enables the optimization of material flows, which is the single most promising way to increase industrial productivity.

GHG emissions

Obtaining and transporting raw materials and works-in-progress between the stages of production are a major source of GHG emissions and resource consumption. The manufacturing industry contributes more than 35% of global CO2 emissions and consumes nearly one third of energy on a global scale. Material flows are responsible for 5.5% of GHG emissions in the world.

Material flow equipment and maintenance activities still use fossil fuels and carbon-intensive materials, especially in ports. To make material flows more sustainable, all future material flow solutions and equipment must heavily favor renewable energy sources and sustainable materials.

Wasted energy

Zero wasted energy aims to reduce the amount of energy needed by material flows to the point that energy is only used to overcome the kinetic friction of the equipment. Material flow equipment wastes energy on unnecessary, unoptimized movements. Any waste of energy is a waste of valuable resources, regardless of the source. Optimizing material flows to be as efficient as possible will simultaneously reduce wasted energy.

Safety incidents

The reduction of safety incidents is of vital importance as material flows are currently responsible for 40% of injuries in the manufacturing industry. 74% of incidents that involve humans happen during routine job activities. Dangerous environments not only pose a risk to humans working in them, but also deter future workforce from seeking out careers in industries involving material flows.

Incidents involving company assets such as products and machinery cause business disruptions. These are all factors that have an immense impact on industrial productivity as they lead to injuries, delays and asset damage.

Program roadmap

Path to the Zero4 future

The Zero4 roadmap provides an overview of the strategic topics that are vital for zeroing down information barriers, GHG emissions, waste energy and safety incidents in industrial companies. Program research and innovation activities happen in seven research streams. Each stream contributes to one or more of the key deficiencies identified in the program.

roadmap Zero4

roadmap Zero4_support

Program streams

Deep-diving into future material flow environments

Ecosystem members are invited to ideate projects and create solutions related specifically to the topics below. They are also highly encouraged to seek opportunities for cooperation in EU projects from the same field.

Some of the research topics are at the core of Konecranes’ business. However, in some topics the Zero4 ecosystem is in a ground-breaking role to solve the challenges of industrial companies. The following roadmaps provide an overview of the research topics and share of cooperation between Konecranes and ecosystem partners.

Human in the Centre of Operations

Material Flow Technologies

Common Material Flow Platform

Zero-emission Material Flows

The purpose of the Zero-emission Material Flows stream is to decarbonize material flow equipment and activities. The short-term focus of the stream is on creating an overview on the environmental impacts and correlations between business models, profitability, circularity, maintenance operations, material selections and material flow optimization. The long-term objective of the stream is to create, validate and select optimal actions, methods and concepts to reduce GHG emissions accordingly to committed targets.

Business Models & Commercialization

Experiment Labs

Inspired Zero4 Ecosystem

The Inspired Zero4 Eecosystem focuses on managing and developing joint co-innovation and European projects according to the program mission and roadmap. Moreover, the stream focuses on building the ecosystem, setting up the ecosystem management and in ensuring open, transparent and regular information flow amongst partners.