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Industry 5.0: How the mass customization era can be the solution for overproduction

The industrial revolution started in 1780 and it is evolving until today.

Ariana Martins
Industry 5.0: How the mass customization era can be the solution for overproduction

We welcome Fashion to Industry 5.0.

All of us are quite familiar with the industrial revolutions. We all know that it was a mark in human history that deeply changed our society, our economy, and also our consumption habits. What some of us don't know is that the industrial revolution is far from being a discrete event in our history; actually, it is a continuous movement that started in 1780 and which lies until today.

The history of all industrial revolutions is like a chicken-egg dilemma. It is difficult to understand if the changes in society have prompted deep changes in industry or if, otherwise, it was the industry that built the society as we know it today.

Textiles: a three-quarter view of a power loom, with admiring visitors either side. Engraving, c.1862.

However, we are living in times of change in terms of industry. Yes, again! In fact, it is amazing to observe that consecutive industrial revolutions are now happening at a faster pace. In fact, almost 100 years separate the beginning of mechanization (Industry 1.0) from the era of electrification (Industry 2.0).

Considering the proliferation of automation and electronics (Industry 3.0) we are talking about only 70 years and the boom of Industry 4.0 happens less than 40 years later with the growth of Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) and Internet of Things (IoT). Now, only 20 years later, we are prepared to streamline what could be the new industrial revolution: Industry 5.0.

Industry growth is intrinsically related to social and economic development. Despite industrial revolutions are almost always related to employment growth it also requires that a lot of people may need to upskill or shift their focus to new areas of expertise to stay in the game. In fact, reinvention and re-learning are long-term processes not always consistent with the ever-evolving industrial environment, and the loss of value on the labor market, for some people, dictated a feeling of distrust for technological improvements.

Humans back in the equations

Industry 5.0 appears to be the key to reconciliation between humans and machines. The main goal is to use the best human creative thinking to solve problems hand in hand with the cognitive perfection of machines to develop processes.

Industry 5.0 Humans and Robots
Industry 5.0 will mark the reconciliation between humans and machines

Although many businesses are adopting Industry 4.0 concepts and incorporating computer systems, computers, and software into production, many are still integrating their existing workforce. Rather than firing their employees, they're looking for new areas where human assistance is required and reorganizing their duties to create new roles.

Businesses were concerned that the introduction of Industry 4.0 would result in a reduction in the number of human employees working in manufacturing facilities. Industry 5.0, on the other hand, is trying to get the human factor back into the equation. Increasing the level of automation in the production floor areas can actually help reduce job risk by delegating difficult, strenuous, and dangerous tasks to machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Creating a balanced mix of human intelligence and cognitive computing could result in unprecedented gains in production efficiency and process perfection. It's about what manufacturing's future holds, and how the business can plan for it in the coming years.

Industry 5.0 and Customization

We are now shifting from an era of mass production to an era of mass customization, where the main focus is to create a super-empowered customer.  There are multiple ways to take this first step, but some companies like PlatformE, focused on the production of Digital Twins and in the consultancy for this new way of production are already ready to play. 

The main goal of companies like PlatformE is to show that producing better and producing less is totally feasible, not only in terms of costs but also in terms of customer experience. The key is simple: premium technology and supply-chain knowledge. 

The premium digital tools give the client the possibility to create its own item, feel the engagement, and enjoy the hyper-realistic experience using only a device and creativity. More than that, they only need to wait for their item as much as for a common product that is not available in stock. For brands, the fact that the product is only going to be produced after the purchase means no dead-stock, so no “dead-money”.

Manufacturing at scale brings efficiency and higher productivity. Yet, there are those of us who value our prized possessions and would appreciate our unique signature as a form of self-expression. How about a sweater with a print bearing your name? Or a pair of sneakers with the shoelaces in that specific color you want? 

You can have personalized items using various levels of software and 3D digital product creation capacities. You can provide more customization options and produce the products efficiently and without any human intervention if you have a way to easily produce in small batches.

Illustration people trying AR platform for fashion customization and personalization
Brands are extending the benefits of 3D design to provide personalization in point-of-sales

Brands are extending the benefits of 3D assets to offer a variety of product combinations in point-of-sales, where customers are invited to customize products to their liking before any physical item is produced. This strategy brings not only customer engagement and satisfaction but also an increase in margins and conversions.

Cross-sector partnerships

Since neither apparel brands nor most manufacturers are currently better placed to develop the requisite disruptive technologies, brands will need to start partnering with technology companies and startups to develop creative automation robotic solutions if they are to compete in an increasingly difficult sector.

Companies must choose their approach in order to achieve this, and cross-sector alliances are crucial in this regard. Brands and retailers with ample financial resources should consider investing in technology companies as soon as possible.

Key industry players will compete in the new scenario of fashion industry 5.0, which is an automated, high-value-generating fashion industry that is the result of a joint effort between people and technology linked via bold strategies.

Timeline of The Industrial Revolutions
The Industrial Revolutions

With all of these simple but well-structured digital tools, brands can take the first step to enter the Industry 5.0 world but, more than that, they are two steps ahead in two critical aspects of the future: customer engagement and no deadstock. All of us as consumers and especially the environment are very grateful for that.

Read more: 5 ways to profit from mass customization

Download the e-book Make it Customizable: A Guide To Produce Only What You Sell
Get the e-book Make it Customizable: A Guide To Produce Only What You Sell (Free download)