Skip to content

Industry 5.0 – yet another revolution or enabler of doing things smarter?

Industrial players are still figuring out what industry 4.0 means for their businesses, yet the European Commission driven 5.0 is suddenly lifting its head. Is the manufacturing industry facing yet another revolution to transform everything they once knew?

Etteplan’s Director, Service Solutions Kari Jussila knows business is nothing without people. And if the industry 4.0 was meant to empower manufacturing companies through digitalization and technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation, and connected devices, 5.0 is about empowering humans with the help of machines.

“We shouldn’t even talk about the fifth revolution, as the core idea of industry 4.0 still exists and is very much relevant for years to come. What 5.0 brings to the table are human-centricity, sustainability, and resilience,” Jussila summarizes.

Resilience, for instance, is needed now more than ever. Global crises and their consequences are often hard to predict. The covid pandemic resulted in component shortages that affected multiple industries, and Russia’s war on Ukraine led to the current energy crisis that, in turn, accelerated the green transition as the entire energy market is under a turmoil. Cyber-attacks can halt entire businesses and factories. And, of course, if we are not able to stop global warming, numerous natural disasters are heading our way at an increasing rate.

“If we think about the industry 4.0 approach, a fully optimized and automated process is far from resilient as cyber-attacks or blackouts can shut it down instantly. That is why companies must ensure their operations are prepared for realistic threats and challenges, and have those emergency procedures and human know-how in place,” Jussila points out.

Resilience alone, in general, is not necessarily a core topic of industry 5.0, but production facilities are not known to be the most resilient companies – massive investments into specialized equipment, for example, mean that adapting to changing scenarios is far more challenging than it is for companies whose business relies on people alone. To increase resilience, they need to start adopting a human-centric point of view.

“You can design a smart factory that runs itself without any human involvement, but once the key personnel leave the company, no one else knows how the facility operates. It becomes incapable of change. Keeping humans in the center enables resilience, which is very much the thinking behind industry 5.0,” Jussila says.

Human-centricity builds resilience and offers a competitive edge

Above all things, industry 5.0 takes the idea of greater good into businesses. Doing the right thing also happens to be great for business. Digitalization and change initiatives are expensive. But when they are based on actual use cases and needs, they are far more likely to succeed with better quality.

“Human-centricity can be approached from many angles. It is both highlighting benefits of human cognitive skills and creativity when collaborating with machines. But also smoothening the change by supporting people during their digitalisation journey. Human-centric design makes co-operation strive and enables human agency,” Etteplan’s Head of Design, Cloud and Applications, Hanna Remula explains.

And while technology is a great assistant for people looking to automate routine tasks and basic functions in factories, companies still need more human capabilities. Feeling dignified and empowered by working with machinery helps maintain existing employees, but many industries are still struggling with labor shortage.

“The job market is global, and even more so in the future. One example of diverse workforce is that you can’t design a factory for native speakers alone. Not taking this into account when designing machinery and technology also decreases resilience, as you are limiting the pool of people you can hire from,” Remula says.

Meaningful work, a well-thought work environment, and values that resonate are the bare minimum for manufacturing companies looking to hire and maintain top talent. One of the most current differentiators are the efforts to increase sustainability – another industry 5.0 topic that businesses should not overlook if they wish to stay in the competition.

Sustainability is a must, but can lead into business benefits

In the manufacturing industry, one of the core challenges will be the scarcity of resources. We already have trouble with component supply chains due to Covid and global warming. Eventually, we will run out of the rare minerals used in components, so being able to recycle devices and hardware entirely becomes an essential solution.

“Repairability, recyclability, and green design are in the center of industry 5.0, as it is highly about the manufacturing industry. Another viewpoint would be sustainable processes and operations overall. We need to respect the limits of our planet and ensure our businesses can stay in business in the coming years,” Jussila says.

The manufacturing industry is a natural trailblazer for the green transition, and there are plenty of opportunities for improvement. More sustainable processes, technologies, and products are also good for business from multiple perspectives. Value-based decision-making applies to both employees and customers, but decreased energy consumption, for example, also creates cost savings.

“Of course, companies who do not reach carbon neutrality will lose their business for regulatory reasons alone. But what industry 5.0 focuses on is long-term sustainability to ensure we can survive the following decades. And not just in terms of business. Permanent green solutions need to be adopted if we want to maintain meaningful life on Earth,” Remula concludes.

If industry 4.0 was highly about maximizing efficiency of manufacturing, 5.0 considers protecting the environment as a key theme. The technological base built during the “fourth industrial revolution” merely acts as the foundation for creating more ethical and sustainable industry.

“As I said before, industry 5.0 is not an industrial revolution, per se, as it only brings a new point of view to the existing digital and technological advancements we have in the context of 4.0. We are simply shifting to a new, better perspective,” Jussila explains.