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Is Industry 5.0 really all that different from Industry 4.0?

clock 3.5 minutes | 24 Oct 2019

Industry 5.0 concept showing robot arm machine technology

The answer is yes and no. First, let’s look at what Industry 4.0 actually is: the integration of IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), cyber-physical systems, and Cloud and cognitive computing. Industry 4.0 has given us the smart factory, putting technology at the forefront of manufacturing.

We now have manufacturing execution systems, with the ability to digitally track and document the journey of goods, from raw materials to end product. Industry 4.0 has also given us shop floor control systems so that we can track the progress of work and better evaluate the processes involved, which helps with resource planning, inventory and ultimately, ROI.

Industry 4.0 leverages data from connected assets, revealing where efficiencies can be gained while transforming manufacturing processes. Across the value chain, new end-to-end data streams are created, leading to new services and reconstructed business models.

With Industry 4.0, physical systems are controlled by automation systems with machine-learning algorithms. Humans are freed from time-consuming tasks to direct their efforts in more value-added areas.

Industry 4.0 is here, now. Major manufacturers in the U.S. implemented Industry 4.0 years ago, but mid-size manufacturers have been slow to invest in these technologies, a 2019 BDO report reveals. Only 5% have made the move or are in the midst of their digital transformation.

So what are the rest of mid-size manufacturers supposed to think when they hear talk about Industry 5.0? First, those companies need not panic, but they do need to catch up technologically – they can even start with their legacy systems – or else they’ll find themselves irrelevant to their customers.

Concept showing the interaction between humans and robots

What is Industry 5.0?

Try filling in the blank:

“Industry __ will enhance both machine and human roles in the manufacturing industry, leaving the monotonous, repetitive tasks to the mechanical and opening up the creative side to the biological. This will allow staff to take on more responsibility and increased supervision of systems to elevate the quality of production across the board.”

That’s a quote from Machine Design, and the answer is 5.0. It could be describing Industry 4.0, however.

Industry 4.0 focusses on the interconnectedness of machines and systems in order to achieve optimum performance to improve efficiencies and productivity. Industry 5.0 is touted as taking it a step further and refining the interaction between humans and machines. What we’ll see is greater collaboration between the two: the ultra-fast precision of automated technology works with a human’s critical thinking skills and creativity.

The idea is that Industry 5.0 creates even higher-value jobs than Industry 4.0, because humans are taking back design responsibility, or work that requires creative thinking. But was it ever taken away?

Creative thinking

AI simulates human intelligence, which is processed by machines and (mostly) computer systems.

The technology is mostly used to manage the more traditional repetitive tasks, though that is changing, with machines being able to make recommendations that humans can trust.

The fact is, creativity is not easy to automate, as hard as some researchers try to do so. It is capable of assisting humans so that it speeds up their creativity, but that makes AI a tool rather than a collaborator in the sense that Industry 5.0 implies.

But AI is still not widely adopted. According to a study by Forrester – 58% of business and technology professionals are researching AI systems, but only 12% actually put them to work.

Technician programming a robotic arm on a computer

Customers want customisation

One driver behind Industry 5.0 is demand for customisation and personalisation for customers, hence the need to involve humans more in the actual manufacturing process.

From a consumer perspective, 29% of Americans say they already own personalised products, according to a 2018 study by Industry Week. Manufacturers with the capabilities to give customers exactly what they want will be rewarded: 62% of the study’s respondents said they’d be willing to pay more to customise their electronic devices, such as phones and tablets.

Industry 4.0 already allows for mass customisation – car buyers can customise their cars online – using mass production techniques. Mass customisation is largely enabled by Industry 4.0 technologies. This includes internet connections between various dealership ordering systems, supply chains, and even the robots in the car manufacturer’s factory.

For B2B manufacturers, customisation can happen by tailoring standard catalogue products for key customers or create exclusive product SKUs for specific applications.

What’s different about Industry 5.0?

Where Industry 5.0 will differ is in mass personalisation – the human touch. Industry 5.0 therefore has some elements of anti-industrial sentiments. The irony is that it relies on robots, or cobots (“co” for collaborative).

Robots are already a mainstay in manufacturing, and Industry 4.0 technologies afford flexibility in manufacturing processes. Industry 5.0 merges human creativity and craftsmanship with the speed, productivity and consistency of robots. That’s it in a nutshell, and that’s where it’s different from Industry 4.0.

Robots capable of being programmed to work alongside humans already exist. The next question is, what industries will be affected by 5.0? Industry 5.0 is specifically intended to elevate the customer experience. By “customer”, we’re realistically talking about consumers. Will car buyers really want a personalised grommet within their door panels? It’s highly doubtful.

Industry 5.0 will impact products such as craft beers, luxury watches, jewelry – any type of designer item, that is. More accurately, if it’s a product that you’d otherwise buy from a craftsperson or artist, then in the future, it could be made as a result of Industry 5.0. For the rest of us, lights-out manufacturing is still the goal to reach for.

The impact of Industry 4.0 on purchasing decisions for manufacturing equipment