Industry 5.0: the next phase of the Industrial Evolution

By Subramaniam Thiruppathi, Director of Sales, Strategic Accounts for India and Sub-Continent, Zebra Technologies Asia Pacific*
December 11 2021: COVID-19 continues to impact how we work, learn, live and play. The global pandemic has forced businesses to explore new digital avenues and transform traditional processes into digital ones to remain agile. As we move forward and adapt to the changing requirements, discussions around the evolution of the manufacturing industry and Industry 5.0 have increased.
According to industry experts, the question lies in what the next step entails and whether we are ready for Industry 5.0. But this is a tough question to answer because the industry players all seem to have different responses and visions of it. Plus, as my colleague Mark Wheeler, Director of Supply Chain Solutions at Zebra Technologies will point out, we have yet to realize the full potential of Industry 4.0.
What is Industry 5.0?
According to the European Commission, the main goals of Industry 5.0 are sustainability, human-centricity and resiliency. It is supposed to provide a vision of industry that aims beyond efficiency and productivity as the sole goals and reinforces the role and contribution of industry to society. However, the Deakin University in Australia believes that Industry 5.0 will bring human workers back to the factory floor.1 Industry 5.0 is often represented as a new era or a revolution, but industrial revolutions have never started and ended on a specific date. Instead of viewing them as separate entities, the flow between Industry 4.0 and 5.0 should be natural and unforced. Furthermore, with the goals and values of Industry 5.0 not yet clearly established, manufacturers and other supply chain organizations should primarily focus on maximizing Industry 4.0 gains.
Still a long way to go toward Industry 4.0|
Having the physical world fully replicated in the digital environment is one of the main ambitions of Industry 4.0. However, many companies and businesses are far from achieving this. It is estimated that the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices in operation will surge beyond 41 billion by 2025. The technology is rapidly finding its way into the industrial sector, with a concept being termed Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Asia-Pacific (APAC) is expected to grow at the highest pace in the digital twin market between now and 2030. A digital twin refers to a computer program that uses real world data to create simulations that can predict how a product or process will perform. These programs can integrate IoT, artificial intelligence (AI) and software analytics to enhance the output. This growth of the digital twin market is attributed to surging investments in the IT sector, economic prosperity, an increasing number of government initiatives promoting the deployment of AI and IoT, and technological advancements. 
While there are challenges involved in realizing a connected cyber-physical system, there are ways to represent the physical world in the digital world. Early in the cyber-physical process, you need full visibility over your assets. Determining what your assets are and knowing where they are in real time helps prevent asset loss and misplacement, which are two factors that can affect continuity and utilization. Once this step is complete, you can go up a level in the informational ladder to determine the condition of your assets. Having data on the whereabouts of assets is valuable but often insufficient. This data also needs to be leveraged in real time with technologies such as temperature sensors, machine vision and radio frequency identification (RFID) to fully understand asset status. For example, knowing Product A was not kept within the correct temperature zone or Device B is low on battery power can streamline decision making and save time.
Nearly every manufacturer is on board with the concept that mass customization presents immense business value as it reduces cost and waste. However, it requires accurate information regarding demand and must be balanced against supplier certainty. The operation-specific dynamic of Industry 4.0 arises when you drill down to what you should spend money on to achieve mass customization, as everyone has a different answer. In addition, terms such as “mass customization” and even “digitalization” are relatively vague terms. Before, operational digitalization only entailed asset locationing, whereas now it can denote location and condition.
Moving toward mass digitalization sounds great in theory because having visibility over processes, work cells and the factory offers an enormous amount of operational intelligence. However, this transition is not free and requires resources and alignment across functions. These ready-to-go technologies must be implemented at high-value pressure points to drive operational value quickly. The problem isn’t technology — new technologies such as Wi-Fi 6, 5G and low-cost active sensors symbolize major steps forward for the industry. Rather, it’s a leadership challenge. The information technology (IT) world and operational technology (OT) world each have their own technologies, goals, budgets and skills, so creating a solution that provides value for everyone remains challenging. In other words, the main obstacle is finding innovation that stretches across multiple departments.
While there may be increasing hype about Industry 5.0, it makes more sense to set a foundation through Industry 4.0 first. By doing so, companies will be able to enjoy enhanced visibility and better responsiveness than before. Only then should companies consider evolving into the next phase when the time is right.

1 MDPI, 13 August 2019
2 Businesswire, 20 July 2020
Technote: The term Industry 5.0 refers to people working alongside robots and smart machines. It’s about robots helping humans work better and faster by leveraging advanced technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data. It adds a personal human touch to the Industry 4.0 pillars of automation and efficiency.(
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