Industry 5.0: The Future of Manufacturing Has Arrived
The third Industry 5.0’ blog post series addresses how new technologies are shaping the manufacturing process, the role of humans in it and what it brings to the industry.
Although Industry 4.0 is still a work in progress for many businesses, the relentless march of progress continues. Industry 5.0 is the next step in the evolution of manufacturing, and to remain competitive, production and manufacturing processes must adapt to the change. If you need proper motivation, just imagine the market as the lion and your business as the gazelle. It’s in your best interest to stay a step ahead.
Industry 4.0 Walked So Industry 5.0 Could Run
It’s best to think of Industry 5.0 as the natural evolution of Industry 4.0. Both address fundamental concerns, such as digital transformation, which connect the supply chain to manufacturers and other stakeholders to assure quality, product availability, product customization, and sustainable operations.
Basically, the changes brought about by Industry 4.0 have paved the way for the advancements that Industry 5.0 are now bringing to the table. Since the introduction of Industry 4.0, the manufacturing industry has been reshaped by a wave of intelligent applications, mostly consisting of cyber-physical systems, in which applications interact via machine-to-machine communication. This progress has centered on sensors and data, which have democratized manufacturing and increased transparency in operations. These were valuable achievements, and it’s fair to say Industry 4.0 had a good run.
So why should we change anything? Well, Industry 4.0 also has limitations. Its focus on automation was ground-breaking, but with all the focus on machines the vital role of human operators was pushed to the background. Machines are great when things are going as planned, but when unsavory materials hit the proverbial fan machines lack the flexibility to diagnose and correct problems. What starts as a small error can escalate quickly. The next generation of advancements intends to address that little blind spot.
Our Returning Champions
Industry 5.0 builds on the foundations of Industry 4.0, keeping what works and improving what doesn’t. As a result, some of the key components of Industry 5.0 in manufacturing are shared with Industry 4.0: Cobots, the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Smart Manufacturing. Let’s take a look at what these tools have accomplished so far, and what they can offer to Industry 5.0.
From Robots to Cobots
Robots play a significant role in demanding tasks such as loading, unloading, welding, and so on. They’re incredibly precise and don’t mind at all when you put them in hazardous situations. As a result, industrial robots are one of the primary pillars of Industry 5.0 and will be utilized to mass-produce personal items.
However, Industry 5.0 is taking a more human-centric approach, so we’re rebranding our mechanical colleagues with a title that fits their new role. Cobots (collaborative robots) are designed to work in sync with human employees. Mechanical muscle guided by human brains in Industry 5.0 boosts the pace and development of numerous operations at the same time. Contrary to what science-fiction may have implied the human brain will only be powering the robot metaphorically. This close collaboration between humans and machines will allow brands to meet the demands of clients with both speed and flexibility. And we all get to keep our brains.
Industry 5.0 won’t replace man with machine, or vice versa. It opts instead for a happy medium where humans coordinate production leveraging the many advantages machines can offer. That way people can focus on problem-solving and finding creative solutions to problems while machines take care of the repetitive and uniform tasks.
Internet of Things, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence
The Internet of Things (IoT) is sometimes a difficulty concept to grasp, but it offers major advantages to those who understand what it represents. The IoT is comprised of every little gadget that connects online, not just computers, but also coffee makers, exercise bikes, or smart televisions. These devices can gather massive amounts of operational data in real time, and that data can then be used to inform decision-making at the production level.
All the information gathered by these networked devices is the vaunted "Big Data” you have likely heard so much about. But all that data is useless unless you can sort through it quickly to separate signal from noise. That’s where Artificial Intelligence comes in.
AI technologies can collect and understand massive amounts of data from the factory floor to find trends, evaluate and anticipate customer behavior, and detect abnormalities in production processes in real time. These solutions assist manufacturers in gaining end-to-end visibility of all production activities at plants scattered around the globe. Sifting through data is a monotonous task for a human, but to an AI finding the needles of valuable insight in those haystacks of information is light work. Perhaps an expert can weigh in on the benefits of AI? Ah, here we go:
“Companies that use AI have seen cost reductions and revenue increases, according to McKinsey. 16 percent of those polled observed a 10-19% drop in costs, while 18 percent saw a 6-10% gain in overall revenue.”
“Smart Manufacturing” is simply all the above elements combined, and once you have everything working in harmony, you’re now part of Industry 5.0. By using the nuggets of insight from Big Data gleaned from the Internet of Things, human operators can then make informed decisions and put Cobots to work for an efficient result. Incredibly, these are not all just buzzwords after all, these tools can make a real difference when implemented effectively.
So…This Is a Good Thing for Manufacturing?
Of course! Assuming your implementation is solid. All these factors combined result in a variety of positive outcomes for businesses. These technologies allow digital decision-making and, therefore, an intelligent business, with the combination of Cobots, IoT, Big Data, and AI. When an intelligent business is well-optimized it is inherently more efficient than a business that does not take advantage of these technologies. In laymen’s terms, people make better decisions based on data directly from the consumer than they do when they’re just blindly guessing what strangers might like.
As if that weren’t enough, Industry 5.0 will impress your inner Scrooge by employing the fewest resources to earn the largest revenues. You’re not being a cheapskate, you’re efficient! (But really, you’ll be both). The reduction in manufacturing costs will also give you an advantage against the competition. While others throw money away on a hunch you can make informed decisions and be confident you’re getting the most bang for your buck before laying your money down.
Ruthless efficiency that crushes the competition is great, sure, but you also need a habitable planet to live on at the end of the day. Industry 5.0 has that covered too. One of the primary goals for Industry 5.0 is the development and implementation of industrial systems based on renewable energies. It advocates the use of circular processes that reuse and recycle natural resources, decrease waste, and have low environmental impact. And all that data-driven efficiency assists here as well, helping you get a clear picture of the production process to make it more environmentally friendly without sacrificing the bottom line.
Mass customisation is becoming a reality because of the benefits of new and existing technologies working in harmony. Insights gleaned from Big Data can help manufacturers be confident they’re producing a product that is exactly what their customer wants while preserving the environment for future generations. That’s a win-win proposition.
Humans and Machines: Better Together
Consumers are increasingly seeking personalized products, and while robots excel in the creation of standardized items, they cannot provide that intangible spark of creativity found within people. The human touch is vital to the manufacturing process when creating personalized items. Humans vs Machines is a beloved fictional trope, but it’s a false dichotomy. In reality, a human operator guiding the actions of a machine performs most efficiently with the least errors.
As with all industrial revolutions, Industry 5.0 will create new jobs that sound impressively futuristic. One example is the Chief Robotics Officer. This professional specializes in the interaction of machines and operators, as well as having expertise in robotics and artificial intelligence.
Employee training will also advance as virtual education becomes more widely available. Companies can save money since they do not have to halt work to train their personnel. A plethora of career opportunities related to the interactions between robotic systems and artificial intelligence, among other technologies, are also anticipated. You probably won’t be able to get George Jetson’s gig, just pushing one button all day, but we’re at least headed in that general direction.
Even though it seems like we just got to Industry 4.0, and indeed many companies are still transitioning, it's critical to keep an eye on the future. The manufacturing sector is not static, and new technologies are continuously propelling it ahead. Just as Industry 4.0 technology required companies to step out of their comfort zone, adapting to Industry 5.0 will require an open mind and a readiness to embrace the changing role of the production worker.
What never changes is consumer demand for high-quality goods, and the need for manufacturers who can fulfil those desires. Industry 5.0 leans on technology to boost efficiency and save money on operations, but it’s human cognition that will separate it from previous era of automation. When it all works in harmony, personalized, high-quality products can be made faster and cheaper than ever before.
Not to get too sappy, but it’s not all just about revenue and efficiency. Technology works for people, and it should improve our lives. That’s why Industry 5.0 is not only a technology-driven revolution but also a value-driven movement. Ideally, it will push the manufacturing sector into a future where respect and consideration for the environment and the inherent value of human beings will be core values that guide the market.