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Merging minds and machines – Unleashing industry 5.0 for smarter manufacturing

The objective of this series of articles is to highlight how emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Quantum Computing, Extended Reality, Block Chain, Big Data Analytics, e-Networks, Drones, Digital Twins and 5G networks can be leveraged to meet the Sustainable Development Goals-SDGs 2030, while impacting various domains. Another objective of this series of articles is to highlight how leveraging all these technologies can help create business opportunities in various domains, and enablement of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) adoption by these technologies. This time we talk about smart manufacturing.

Smart Manufacturing
The first industrial revolution was characterized by steam power and the power loom; the assembly line was introduced during the second industrial revolution; and automation and data-enhanced automation came along in the 1970s during the third industrial revolution. This fourth industrial revolution is characterized by a range of interconnected automated systems that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, and therefore called Industry 4.0 or Smart Manufacturing. It has been in vogue for quite some time.

The various features and principles of Smart manufacturing include:

  • Interconnected systems: Integration of machines, devices, and systems through IoT and communication protocols to enable seamless data exchange.
  • Data-driven decision-making: Utilization of data analytics, AI, and ML to analyze large datasets and derive actionable insights for better decision-making.
  • Automation and robotics: Implementation of automated processes and robotic systems to improve efficiency, reduce errors, and handle repetitive tasks.
  • Digital twins: Creation of virtual replicas of physical systems, products, or processes to simulate and analyze performance in real-time.
  • Cyber-physical systems: The integration of physical components with digital technologies to create systems that can monitor, analyze, and control physical processes.
  • Advanced sensors: Deployment of sensors for real-time monitoring of equipment, production processes, and product quality.
  • Additive manufacturing (3D Printing): Use of 3D printing for rapid prototyping, customization, and sometimes even end-use part production.
  • Cloud computing: Utilization of cloud-based platforms for scalable storage, processing, and access to manufacturing data.
  • Supply chain integration: Integration of Smart Manufacturing technologies into the broader supply chain for improved visibility, coordination, and responsiveness.

The basic aim is to transform traditional manufacturing practices by leveraging digital technologies to create more agile, efficient, intelligent, connected, and adaptive industrial production processes.

Challenges with Industry 4.0
While Industry 4.0 promises significant advancements in manufacturing and industry, there are several challenges and limitations associated with its implementation. Some of the key limitations include:

  • Cost of implementation: The initial investment required for implementing Industry 4.0 technologies, such as upgrading equipment, implementing new softwares, and training the workforce, can be substantial. This is a big barrier for small businesses.
  • Integration challenges: Traditional manufacturing systems were not designed with the level of connectivity and interoperability required for Industry 4.0. Integrating new technologies with legacy systems can be complex and may require significant modifications.
  • Security concerns: With increased connectivity and the use of IoT devices, the risk of cyber threats and attacks on industrial systems are increasingly becoming a major concern in terms of preventing data breaches and disruptions.
  • Workforce skills gap: Skilled workforce is crucial for successful implementation of Industry 4.0. There is often a gap between the skills that workers possess, and the skills needed for working in a highly digitized and automated manufacturing environment.
  • Data privacy issues: The collection and analysis of vast amounts of data in Industry 4.0 raise concerns about data privacy. Companies need robust policies and security measures to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access or misuse.
  • Overreliance on technology: Depending too heavily on technology without addressing underlying processes and organizational issues can lead to inefficiencies. Organizations need to carefully plan and strategize to ensure that technology aligns with business objectives.
  • Regulatory and legal challenges: The legal and regulatory framework for Industry 4.0 has not been fully addressed. Issues related to liability, intellectual property, and data ownership may become critical at times.
  • Environmental impact: While Industry 4.0 can lead to increased efficiency and reduced waste, the production and disposal of electronic devices and components may contribute to electronic waste and environmental concerns.
  • Resistance to change: There could be resistance to the cultural and organizational changes associated with the adoption of Industry 4.0. Overcoming resistance and fostering a culture of innovation and adaptability is crucial for successful implementation.

Addressing these limitations requires a comprehensive approach that includes investment in workforce development, cybersecurity measures, collaboration on standards, and careful planning for technology integration.

UN SDGs 2023 and manufacturing
The Goal SDG 9 deals with Industry Innovation and Infrastructure. It emphasises the need for building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and fostering innovation.

SDG 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth, focuses on promoting sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all. The integration of advanced technologies.

SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production, encourages sustainable consumption and production patterns. The optimization and efficiency improvements brought about by advanced technologies in manufacturing align with the goal of ensuring responsible and sustainable resource use.

SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy, basically targets the promotion of access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy. The integration of smart and sustainable technologies in industrial processes does contribute to energy efficiency and cleaner production methods.

SDG 13 Climate Action, addresses the urgent need to act to combat climate change and its impacts. Sustainable and environmentally friendly technologies in manufacturing and industry play a role in mitigating climate change effects.

Besides these, under SDG 9, there are also a few targets which include:

  • Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and, by 2030, significantly raise industry’s share of employment and gross domestic product, in line with national circumstances, and double its share in least developed countries
  • Increase the access of small-scale industrial and other enterprises, in particular in developing countries, to financial services, including affordable credit, and their integration into value chains and markets
  • By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities
  • Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, in particular developing countries, including, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending
  • Support domestic technology development, research and innovation in developing countries, including by ensuring a conducive policy environment for, inter alia, industrial diversification and value addition to commodities

So, here we can see that some of these SDGs 2030, directly and indirectly linked to manufacturing, cannot be met with the basic structure of Industry 4.0.

Industry 5.0
In Industry 5.0, which is on the anvil right now, the focus is on collaboration between humans and machines to empower people to fully utilize their skills and make work safer, more efficient and more meaningful besides creating sustainable, environment friendly manufacturing processes. Industry 5.0 will also mean the introduction of even more advanced technologies which can support and complement humans in various innovative ways. It also has the potential to develop new skills and competencies among the work force.

Industry 5.0, often referred to as the Fifth Industrial Revolution, is a new development model promoted by the European Commission and described in the report Industry 5.0 – Towards a sustainable, human-centric and resilient European industry. Industry 5.0 focuses on human-machine collaboration on tasks that require creativity, complex decision-making and emotional skills. In the Fifth Industrial Revolution, the human factor acquires greater prominence and is positioned at the center of the production process.

Industry 5.0 is not an alternative model designed to replace Industry 4.0, but a development that puts technology at the service of people. In other words, Industry 4.0 is based on the interconnectivity between machines and IT systems, while Industry 5.0 looks to combine the roles of human beings and machines to complement and enhance each other’s strengths. Hence Industry 5.0 can be termed as Smarter Manufacturing.

Industry 4.0 vs. Industry 5.0: Key Differences

  • Human-centricity: While Industry 4.0 emphasizes automation and machine-driven processes, Industry 5.0 places equal importance on human creativity, collaboration, and innovation.
  • Collaboration: Industry 4.0 focuses on machines working together seamlessly, while Industry 5.0 emphasizes collaboration between humans and machines, combining their unique capabilities.
  • Key technologies. In Industry 4.0, the predominant technologies include concepts such as IoT, big data, Artificial Intelligence, virtual reality and cloud computing. These technologies are used to automate processes, analyze large amounts of data and lay the foundations for smart and predictive decision-making. In Industry 5.0, these technologies are joined by advances in collaborative robotics (cobots),exoskeletons, augmented reality and sophisticated AI systems that enable closer interaction between human beings and machines.
    Also, Digital twins and simulation tools for production optimization are the hallmarks of Industry 4.0, while there is an emphasis on nanotechnology and biotechnology for creating new materials and products.
  • Customization and adaptability: Industry 4.0 aims for mass production, and some degree of flexible manufacturing. Industry 5.0 takes this trend one step further by encouraging highly personalized and on-demand manufacturing where products can be individually and specifically manufactured as per customer preferences.
  • Ethics and responsibility: Industry 5.0 introduces a stronger emphasis on ethical considerations, ensuring technology is used responsibly, and human well-being is prioritized.
  • Sustainability. Industry 4.0 aims to improve efficiency and decrease energy consumption through automation and the use of cutting-edge technologies. However, Industry 5.0 places greater emphasis on the use of renewable energy sources and the design of energy- efficient systems to achieve more sustainable manufacturing and reduce the carbon footprint.

So, does it mean that Industry 5.0 shall replace all that is happening under Industry 4.0? Well the answer is a big NO! Industry 5.0 will extend the strengths of Industry 4.0, and help make companies even more agile, human centric and future-proof.

Enablement of ESG (Environment, Social and Governance)
Emerging technologies can be, and are being leveraged towards SDGs 2030, which in turn can meet the Economic, Environmental and Social & Cultural objectives in various domains, including the Smart manufacturing. There are a lot of business opportunities in various applications. Organisations involved in these projects, have reasons to focus on the ESG (Environment, Social & Governance) aspects as well, thus having a positive impact on the society on the whole.

Here are some ESG considerations that could be linked to Industry 5.0 or similar concepts:

Environmental (E)
The adoption of Industry 5.0 technologies prioritizes energy-efficient processes and the use of renewable energy sources to minimize environmental impact. Sustainable manufacturing practices that reduce waste and optimize resource use contribute to ESG goals.

Social (S)
Industry 5.0 initiatives should lead to inclusive growth by promoting job creation and ensuring decent working conditions, besides providing training and education opportunities to impart workers with the skills needed for advanced technologies and the changing industrial landscape. Considerations of the impact on local communities, including social and environmental aspects, are vital.

Governance (G)
Industry 5.0 initiatives should promote transparency in business operations, decision- making processes, and adherence to ethical standards. As digital technologies play a central role, maintaining robust cybersecurity measures is essential for protecting sensitive data and ensuring trust.

Smart manufacturing is the future of manufacturing. Emerging technologies are major pillars of the processes involved. Industry 4.0 and Industry 5.0 represent two distinct phases of industrial evolution. While Industry 4.0 focused on automation, connectivity, and digitalization, Industry 5.0 takes a step further by placing humans at the center of technological advancements. Thus, Industry 5.0, meets most of the SDGs linked directly or indirectly to manufacturing. By leveraging human creativity, collaboration, and ethical considerations, Industry 5.0 aims to create a harmonious balance between humans and intelligent machines, unlocking new opportunities for innovation, customization, and personalization in various industries. Thus, it can be termed as the path of smarter manufacturing.

For a country like India as the most populous country of the world, and with smart human capital, Industry 5.0 should be the way forward!

This article is authored by Vimal Wakhlu, Former Chairman & Managing Director, Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd. Views expressed are personal.

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