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Industry 5.0 is bringing a new era of partnership between man and machine


Industry 4.0 was coined in 2011 at the Hannover Trade Fair in Germany. Manufacturers and industry experts recognized the unprecedented rise of automation in factory machines. Through the introduction of new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud technology and big data, factories were able to integrate separate machines into a cohesive, automated framework.

This integration of machinery gave manufacturers the ability to create smart networks across the value chain, where the machines were able to control and communicate with one another from the manufacturing to production process.

Less than a decade since the term Industry 4.0 was first coined, we are now seeing the coming of a new era - Industry 5.0.

What are the differences between Industry 4.0 and Industry 5.0?

Industry 4.0 was characterized by a high level of automation and interoperability across the factory value chain. We were able to take machine automation to the next level, and remove many unnecessary manual aspects in the manufacturing and production line.

That said, there are many problems with having a factory floor completely run by machines. Network connectivity issues and machine breakdowns make it difficult for manufacturers to rely solely on machines. In addition, machine programs do not have the same level of flexibility and intelligence that humans can bring to the table.

Enter Industry 5.0, a new era of partnership between man and machine. Industry 5.0 is characterized by the merger between highly efficient machines and the creative, critical thinking skills of humans. Many have been concerned that Industry 4.0 will erase the need for human labour in factories, which will make many factory jobs redundant in the future. However, that trend seems to be changing with the coming of Industry 5.0, where the marriage between man and machines has proved to not only create room for critical analysis on the factory floor, but increased efficiency as well.

One key example is Toronto’s Paradigm Electronics. They manufacture high-end loudspeakers, and part of the manufacturing process involves using Universal robots’ UR10 robotic arm to polish the speaker cabs, which is a time-consuming process. By introducing a human partner to the job, the company has managed to increase its production efficiency by 50%. Industry 5.0 will see the expansion of similar human-machine partnerships in factories around the world.

Key characteristics of Industry 5.0

There are few key characteristics of Industry 5.0 that reflect both consumer trends and factory operation needs.

1. Personalization and customization

Today’s consumers are expecting a higher degree of personalization and customization in the products they use. This was already achieved in Industry 4.0, with the introduction of smart home technology that enabled home owners to control their electronics through an app or by voice control. Industry 5.0 will only push the envelope further. Consumers appreciate the human touch that businesses can provide. On the factory floor, that will mean a greater focus towards designing products and inserting customized processes to create more specialized end products for consumers.

2. Restructuring of the manufacturing workforce

Technological developments throughout the industrial revolution, starting in the 1700s, has continuously pushed jobs out of the market and created more highly skilled jobs with each iteration. The same goes for Industry 5.0. The smart networks established between machines in Industry 4.0 has reduced the need for manual human tasks. At the same time, it has created room for highly skilled workers to spend more time on creative tasks, such as designing more innovative and bespoke products.

3. Greater collaboration between humans and machines

The long drawn debate between who holds the ultimate authority, humans or machines, might find a resolution in Industry 5.0. Where humans and machines once wrestled for control on the factory floor, more manufacturers are exploring the ways in which humans can be integrated with machines. For instance, big data technologies have given us a wealth of information to work with, and it is up to humans to be able to work with their robotic counterparts to manipulate and distill the essential parts of the data collected. There are many creative ways where the human factor can be brought into the picture, a trend which will become more prominent in Industry 5.0.

The Industry 5.0 era waits for no one

While some manufacturers are still trying to catch up with the trends in Industry 4.0, the coming of the Industry 5.0 era waits for no one. Robotic automation is inevitable, and the next step will be to figure out how manufacturers, employees and consumers can make the best use of the technology to improve the way we work and live. Industry 5.0 will be an exciting time where we will be able to witness more creative applications of machine automation and human-centric design within factories.

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