Ushering in the Era of Sustainable Human-Centric Smart Manufacturing

Apr 16, 2024
Infor | 4 min READ
Industry 4.0, a term made popular by the World Economic Forum Chairperson, Klaus Schwab, in 2016, is marked by rapid digital advancements in the manufacturing sector in the 21st century. It set the pace for automation of on-floor operations and business functions such as supply chain, finance & accounting, and customer relationship management.
Pankaj Shah
Pankaj Shah

Senior Director & Global Client Partner


Sensors embedded in the devices connected by IoT collect data and fuel advanced analytics for actionable insights. Cloud computing and AI/ML have become mainstream in modern industrial processes. Valued at $130.90 billion in 2022, the market size for Industry 4.0 is expected to reach $377.30 billion by 2029.
Given Industry 4.0’s massive appeal and adoption, it is only reasonable that industry experts are already pivoting toward the next growth phase—Industry 5.0—that will usher in an era of more intuitive and seamless interactions between humans and machines. According to the European Union (EU), Industry 5.0 “aims to achieve societal goals beyond jobs and growth, and become a resilient provider of prosperity by making production more sustainable and placing the worker well-being at the center of the production process.”
Broadly, Industry 5.0 is based on three fundamental pillars:
#1. Sustainability
The adverse impact of industrialization has historically been overlooked. And while business leaders today express concern for the environment and reducing carbon footprint, many fail to live up to their climate pledges. According to the LEK Global Corporate Sustainability Survey, 58% of the respondents said their leadership team disagrees with balancing short-term priorities with long-term environmental, social, and governance goals.
Industry 5.0 extends the concept of sustainability from minimizing climate damage to proactively bringing positive change by paying stronger attention to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Ahead of becoming carbon-neutral, they must become climate-positive. They can also incorporate circular economy practices by sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling existing materials and products for as long as possible.
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#2. Human-centricity
For decades, employees have been viewed as a business ‘resource.’ In contrast, Industry 5.0’s human-centric approach views people as assets and requires organizations to create value for them before leveraging their skills for profit. While selecting technologies for a manufacturing environment, an organization must prioritize ones that align with its workers’ needs. For example, using robots for repetitive and hazardous tasks allows people to focus on roles that require mental insight, sensitivity, and adaptive thinking.
Other strategies to improve employee well-being include ergonomic workplace exposure, job rotation, work schedule diversity, and involving multiple stakeholders in the conception, design, and innovation of production systems.
#3. Resilience
Given regional geo-political turmoil and socio-economic disruptions of unforeseen events (e.g., pandemic), manufacturers realize the need to increase business resilience. Industry 5.0 aims to build organizations that can systematically anticipate, react, and learn from crises to keep their performance stable and sustainable.
Companies with digital supply chains attain greater visibility to map their available supply and reallocate products as per demand. Additive manufacturing techniques with shorter lead times, smaller inventories, less wastage, and more scope for customization also make manufacturing operations resilient.
Advancing from Industry 4.0 to 5.0: Tech Imperatives
In the evolution toward Industry 5.0, tapping into the prowess of both machines and humans is vital. Instead of replacing them, technology will augment human capability. Technologies that will enable this shift include:
Collaborative robots: Cobots that work alongside humans and complete monotonous tasks while preventing manual errors and boosting overall productivity are key. Powered by sensors, actuators, ML, and control systems for assembly tasks such as part selection and orientation, welding, painting, soldering, and fastening screws, cobots are programmed to make material and quality management quicker and more efficient.
AI: With the ability to analyze vast data volumes and extract meaningful insights, AI-based applications support decision-making for manufacturing operations. AI can be used to recommend raw materials, reduce wastage, and implement sustainable production planning to optimize critical processes.
Data analytics: Industry 5.0 leverages advanced cloud systems for storage, processing, and intelligent data analysis. By analyzing data from assembly lines, supply chains, and customer interactions, manufacturing enterprises can identify bottlenecks impacting efficiency and take corrective actions. Real-time data analytics also helps adjust production schedules to meet demand patterns. It optimizes inventory levels, improves plant maintenance, and reduces operations costs.
Digital twins: As dynamic, information-driven replicas of physical objects, processes, and systems, digital twins will play a critical role in Industry 5.0 for smoother communication and actionable insights. Leveraging digital twins, companies can validate and test their products even before they exist. Engineers simulate system disruptions, explore possible problems, and devise mitigation or quick remediation strategies. The capability improves risk assessment, accelerates new product development, and increases production line reliability.
Immersive technologies: AR and VR improve workforce training and safety in Industry 5.0 environments. They reduce the risk of accidents, and when combined with digital twins, they help ensure physical site safety. The industry that relied on CAD and BIM earlier now has access to AR-VR, creating immersive experiences in a 3D digital world that makes production more agile.
Industry 5.0: An Age to Strengthen Contributions of Industry to Society
A focus shift from economic value to societal well-being is central to Industry 5.0. It adds a human factor to manufacturing and supply chain processes and introduces intelligent plant process management. Although some companies are still focused on Industry 4.0 milestones, the next phase has been triggered by computation and network speeds, connectivity, and AI progress.
At Birlasoft, we expedite your journey to Industry 5.0 by helping you execute the mix of technologies and systems for your organization’s needs.
Know how to make your operations more sustainable, human-centric, and resilient by leveraging the future-ready tools for digital transformation.
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