Manufacturing paradigms and production systems have been changing rapidly in the past few decades. With the advent of new technologies, we have seen a faster migration towards highly automated, digitally connected production processes.
This transformation is known as Industry 4.0, and it has brought with it a new level of efficiency and productivity. However, it has also created many challenges, such as the displacement of workers, increase of cyber threats risk, and a lack of adaptability due to high specialization and investment required to produce more complex and specialized products.
As we look to the future, there is a new wave of transformation on the horizon: Industry 5.0. This relatively new concept, as defined by the European Commission, involves more than just a technological evolution from Industry 4.0. It provides a vision of an industry that aims beyond efficiency and productivity as the sole goals, reinforcing the role and the contribution of industries and businesses to society. In this article, we will explore the concept of Industry 5.0 and what we can expect from it.
Industry 5.0: An Overview
Essentially, Industry 5.0 is about putting people at the core of the production process. It gives the wellbeing of the worker higher value and focuses in using new technologies to provide prosperity beyond jobs and allowing growth in a sustainable way, without polluting the planet or depleting its resources.
Industry 5.0 is not just about improving productivity and efficiency; it’s about improving the quality of life for workers and society as a whole. It aims to create a better world for everyone, by enhancing the positive impact of industry on society while reducing its negative impact. This is achieved by embracing a 3-edged approach: human-centric, resilient, and sustainable.
The Three Pillars of Industry 5.0
The concept of Industry 5.0 is built over three pillars: human-centric, resilience, and sustainable. Each of these pillars represent the very essence of this new paradigm.
The first pillar, human-centric, means seeing people as ends instead of means for production. This means focusing on the needs of workers and creating work environments that are safe, healthy, and fulfilling. It also means creating opportunities for workers to learn and develop new skills, and ensuring that workers are involved in decision-making processes that affect their work.
The second pillar, resilience, implies that organizations are able to anticipate, react and learn from any crisis or challenge, and thereby ensure a stable and sustainable performance. Resilience is the capacity to adapt to an always-changing environment and recover quickly from setbacks. It implies having the flexibility to respond to changing market conditions, while still maintaining high standards of quality and productivity.
The third pillar, sustainability, start from acknowledging we cannot continue with the global industrial expansion trends as they are. The climate conditions that facilitate life and agriculture, as well as many resources availability are being pushed to the edge. In this scenario of challenge, it’s not enough for companies to only reduce their negative impact, but they must increase their positive impact as well.
Collaborative robotics for Industry 5.0
While industrial robots have performed dangerous, monotonous, or physically exhausting work in manufacturing plants and other workplaces, collaborative robotics is a new generation of technology that extend robots field of action allowing them to work together with humans in a safe way.
For example, instead of being fenced off for safety, this new generation of collaborative robots or Cobots are able to work safely alongside people is creating new opportunities for businesses. Human and machine work side-by-side allowing people to focus on value-adding tasks and take customization of products to a higher level.
Among their innovations, cobots are equipped with sensors and other safety features that allow them to detect and avoid collisions with humans and other objects. They are also very versatile and can perform a large spectrum of tasks, including assembly, packaging, and quality control in a cost-effective way.
By working alongside human workers, cobots can help them to improve productivity and efficiency without a huge investment and occupying less space.
To achieve Industry 5.0 ideals, we should take a technological approach and use the newest and most innovative solutions available to do so. In this way cobot can complement human workers, each contributing their own unique strengths to create a production process that is not only more efficient, but also more sustainable and ultimately more successful. This is where cobots come in.
Going back to the three pillars of Industry 5.0. Cobots allow production to go more human-centric, as they take people away from tasks that can be dangerous or unhealthy and executing them in a very effective way. Some of the tasks that can easily be automated with cobot technology are the most repetitive and dull ones, such as pick and place, palletizing, machine tending or screwdriving. Cobots can also execute more complex or dangerous tasks such as welding, polishing, assembly, laser cutting, etc.
Regarding sustainability, cobots are very energy-efficient having a low consumption and, as it is powered solely by electricity, it can easily integrate into more clean sources of energy. They also can work in a wider range of temperatures compared to humans, reducing the needs for cooling or heating in certain areas.
Of course, there are also challenges associated with the use of cobots in the context of Industry 5.0. One of the main challenges is ensuring that the technology is used in a way that benefits both human workers and the organization as a whole. This requires great effort from companies to carefully plan not only the technical aspects, but also make a broader plan that incorporates management and human dimensions.
Another challenge is ensuring that cobots are used in a way that is safe and effective. This requires proper training for workers and engineers, as well as ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the technology. Companies must also ensure that their cobots are properly maintained and repaired to avoid downtime and other issues.
In conclusion, Industry 5.0 represents a change of paradigm and a new era in industrial production. Collaborative robotics are a tool that will allow companies to get closer to this ideal.
By enabling humans and machines to work together more effectively, cobots can help to create a more efficient, productive, sustainable, resilient and human-centric production ecosystem. They can also help to create new opportunities for businesses to innovate and grow, while also improving the wellbeing of workers and reducing the negative impact of production on the environment.