Industry 5.0 — the Fifth Industrial Revolution — is a new development paradigm introduced by the European Commission. It advocates the fostering of industrial activity that transcends technical and economic objectives such as productivity and efficiency. Industry 5.0 seeks to promote other purposes that are also essential for the future of the sector, i.e., human well-being, sustainability, and resilience.
Industry 5.0: definition and origin
The term Industry 5.0, coined by the European Commission, came about as a concept complementary to Industry 4.0. This new focus encourages industrial development towards a production model centered not only on technological innovation and economic growth, but also on commitment to environmentally responsible practices. Likewise, it promotes the consolidation of resilience strategies that strengthen the sector in the face of sudden disruptions such as the one caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
This program, outlined in the report Industry 5.0 – Towards a sustainable, human centric and resilient European industry, is the result of discussions that took place in two virtual workshops organized in July 2020. Participants in these meetings included several research and technology organizations and funding agencies across Europe. They all agreed on the need to better integrate the social and environmental priorities of the European Union, shifting the focus on technology from individual perspective to a systemic one.
Differences between Industry 4.0 and Industry 5.0
Industry 5.0 isn’t an evolution of Industry 4.0, nor is it an alternative paradigm designed to replace it. In a way, it’s a wake-up call in terms of the direction Industry 4.0 has taken. According to the European Commission, the Fourth Industrial Revolution was focused primarily on process digitization and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to boost productivity and efficiency. Among its priorities, it relegated the role of workers involved in the industrial fabric and promoted the transition towards more sustainable development models.
Industry 5.0, on the other hand, brings back the human factor, placing employees at the centre of the production process. According to this premise, technology should be at the service of humans — not the other way around — with the aim of moving towards a scenario of full machine-human collaboration. In other words, Industry 4.0 is based on interconnectivity between machines and IT systems, while Industry 5.0 looks to combine the roles of humans and machines to complement and enhance each other’s strengths.
Characteristics of Industry 5.0
The growth and development model promoted by Industry 5.0 is based on three core pillars:
- Sustainability. Developing production systems based on renewable energies is one of the requirements set by Industry 5.0. In order to reduce carbon emissions by 55% by 2030, the European Commission states in its report that industry must be sustainable to respect the production limits of the planet. Thus, it recommends the implementation of circular processes that reuse and recycle natural resources, reduce waste, and minimize environmental impact.
- Human-centricity. Industry 5.0 puts humans at the centre of the production model. The premise is clear; instead of “What can we do with new technologies?”, the question is, “What can technology do for us?” This more social and human-centric approach ensures that the use of technology doesn’t infringe on the fundamental rights of workers, such as the right to privacy, autonomy, and human dignity.
- Resilience. Resilience has become key in combating the Covid-19 pandemic. The European Commission’s report shows that geopolitical changes and natural crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic reveal just how fragile our industries are. Therefore, having the ability to adapt to adverse situations with positive results is a must in Industry 5.0.
With a sustainable, human-centric, and resilient approach, Industry 5.0 sets out to successfully overcome disruptions and challenges, using technology to do so.
Industry 5.0 technologies
According to the European Commission, and under its technological framework, there are six key categories for fomenting Industry 5.0:
- 1) Individualized Human-machine-interaction.
- 2) Bio-inspired technologies and smart materials.
- 3) Digital twins and simulation.
- 4) Data transmission, storage, and analysis technologies.
- 5) Artificial Intelligence (AI).
- 6) Technologies for energy efficiency, renewables, storage, and autonomy.
This technological framework must be a strategic ally for advancing towards the goals of Industry 5.0. Predictive analytics, for example, offers tools for bolstering the resilience of the sector with the purpose of anticipating possible contingencies, e.g., extreme weather events or changes in demand.
Meanwhile, cobots (collaborative robots) — machines designed to work with operators and free them from having to carry out the more demanding, hazardous, and/or repetitive tasks — are being employed more and more in production centres and warehouses. This is encouraging, as the rise of cobots confirms the viability of a technological model in which machines and humans share responsibilities and work in harmony.
Industry 5.0: a change of paradigm
Right now, Industry 5.0 is in an incipient phase; that is, we’re still immersed in improving and optimizing Industry 4.0 through the use of technologies currently on the market. Nevertheless, the Fifth Industrial Revolution aims to transition towards industry that’s more resilient, sustainable, and human-centric.
Industry 5.0 benefits workers, companies, and our planet. This paradigm shift we’re experiencing is concerned not only with efficiency and productivity, but with ensuring that production respects our planet and values workers.