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Industry 5.0 is making waves in the manufacturing industry – three steps to take

Industry 5.0 is making its way to manufacturing, but manufacturers are still figuring out how to make the most out of their 4.0 transformation. This article covers the basic steps to kickstart efforts toward a more ethical, sustainable, and human-centric industry.

First and foremost, industry 5.0 should not be treated as a new industrial revolution – it is merely a new approach to manufacturing that embraces better solutions and processes with humans at the center of technology. Of course, we are talking about a significant shift from the efficiency-focused thinking of industry 4.0, and getting started may feel overwhelming. Our handy three-step checklist is intended to provide starting points to kick off your journey.

1. Assess your business units and operations before committing to change

There are always low-hanging fruits in getting started, and thoroughly assessing all your company’s operations is one of the basic steps that can be taken even before creating the roadmap to change. After all, without understanding the current status, it is impossible to know what to tackle next. And with some luck, there might be opportunities of immediate impact. For instance, monitoring and optimizing energy consumption increases sustainability and minimizes costs.

As industry 5.0 consists of human-centricity, sustainability, and resilience, multiple viewpoints need to be utilized in assessing your business. Prioritizing becomes the key – is your main challenge reaching carbon neutrality or securing supply chains in global turmoil? 

The scalability of production has a significant role in increasing resilience in uncertain times, and scalability consultation helps you tackle the identified risks. Life cycle analysis, in turn, sheds light on how sustainable your business actually is. It also offers actionable insight on where to improve both long-term and already today.

2. Replace short-term perspectives with life cycle thinking

Life cycle thinking is crucial for sustainable and ethical practices in industrial environments. The linear approach of manufacturing processes that prioritizes cost reduction and efficiency has historically negatively impacted the environment and society. However, a life cycle approach enables companies to take a holistic view of their products, processes, and systems, from raw material extraction to disposal or recycling.

Manufacturers can minimize their carbon footprint and preserve natural resources by designing products with longer lifespans, sourcing raw materials responsibly, and reducing environmental impact during production. Life cycle thinking also allows companies to identify areas of improvement and implement sustainable and ethical practices that minimize waste, emissions, and environmental impact while improving social conditions and economic benefits.

3. Adopt human-centric thinking as the backbone of design

Industrial digitalization should serve the business, yes, but also the needs of the users. After all, technology exists to support the work of people, not replacing them altogether. And genuine business value stems from understanding and considering the actual user needs and use scenarios.

People have high expectations for their tools at work – they want user-friendliness, intuitiveness, and personified user experiences. Machinery and robotics are meant to empower people, so their functions must be easily understood. UX has an impact on employee experience, and it should not be overlooked.

On the business side, it is nearly impossible to solve challenges without genuinely understanding the user experience and needs. ANDRITZ, for example, utilized the means of service design to optimize Smart Wood Processing Solutions from the user’s point of view to create a seamless user experience throughout digital systems. Keeping the customer needs as a leading priority in design decisions ensures meaningful solutions that are also more efficient and of better quality.

The most important learning to take, however, is this: have the courage to admit you can’t have all the answers and the curiosity to start learning and gathering information. What often hinders the efforts is fear that stems from uncertainty and not knowing what to do or where to start in the context of your business.

Accepting that you don’t have all the answers from the get-go already paves the way for a smoother transition – skills and capabilities are always easy to acquire. Expert partners exist to help create a proof of concept and execute that change together.