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Industry 5.0 Is Coming. Here’s Why You Should Care

We’ve reached a peak as far as connecting and optimizing machines, according to one industry expert. Now we must focus on connecting and optimizing humans — the core of Industry 5.0.

Geoff Giordano

November 23, 2021

5 Min Read
human worker and robot interacting
Image: Alamy/Pitinan Piyavatin

As manufacturers embrace Industry 4.0 — the digital future of production — industry experts are stressing that Industry 5.0, focused on human-machine interaction, is not far behind.

This evolution is the subject of a panel discussion, “Creative People, Collaborative Robots & Smart Factories (beyond Industry 4.0?),” scheduled for Dec. 8 at Advanced Manufacturing East in New York. The three-day event features six co-located trade shows, including Plastec EastMedical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) East, and EastPack, and more than 30 conference sessions at the Jacob Javits Convention Center from Dec. 7 to 9.

Empowering humans

Simply put, the thrust of Industry 5.0 is “using advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) data to help empower humans to do better work,” explained panelist Chris Kuntz, Vice President of Marketing for AI-powered connected-worker platform Augmentir. The workplace has evolved such that “the old way of supporting your workers just doesn’t work today, and manufacturers are starting to realize that.”

Will Healey III

Added panel moderator Will Healy III, “You can have all the greatest technology in the world, but if you don’t have the people on board and the right processes in place, the technology is irrelevant. So the idea is this: How do we put people at the center of our industrial revolution, at the center of our processes, and at the center of our technology implementations to make the people we have more productive, more efficient, more flexible, and more valuable to our organizations?”

This is where all the elements of Industry 4.0 — robots, cobots, sensors, and AI — must be harnessed through intensive organizational change.

Using technology as a recruiting tool

“The industrial revolution requires a cultural revolution to be successful,” asserted Healy, Americas Marketing Manager for smart factory solutions provider Balluff. Baby boomers are retiring, and younger generations lack interest in manufacturing careers. “Manufacturers who are overcoming this are taking long hard looks at their company culture and their organization and shifting to a different mindset. They are embracing diversity, aspiring to [recruit] more women in the workplace, changing managers into leaders, and using their technology strategy as a recruiting and retention tool.”

Optimal use of AI is a central component of that technology strategy. At Augmentir, Kuntz noted, “We’ve realized that automation has reached its peak in manufacturing, and the workforce is the last untapped potential to really drive manufacturing transformation and drive new levels of operating efficiency. With the current workforce dynamics in manufacturing, this is a data problem — one that AI is uniquely suited to solve. We’ve reached a peak as far as connecting and optimizing machines. Now we must focus on connecting and optimizing humans.”

Chris Kuntz

However, Kuntz added, today’s workers are still “relatively disconnected from the digital thread of the business. If we can connect them and understand how they are working, there are huge opportunities for improvement. Humans are a source of valuable enterprise data — but only if the data can be captured and understood. The challenge [is that] data from connected workers is inherently noisy, creating confusing signals that traditional business intelligence tools can’t interpret. Making sense of this data and turning it into actionable insights is only possible with AI.”

Another major obstacle to bringing AI and other technology on board meaningfully, according to Healy, is the struggle many manufacturers in North America face in achieving Industry 2.0 or Industry 3.0 in their factories, let alone reaching smart factory goals. “So each manufacturer needs to take a look at how they are structured, where they are in the evolution, and make purposeful decisions to make progress each day. If we set Industry 5.0 goals with an Industry 2.0 plant, the timeline needs to be long and must start with automation and connected systems.”

Setting small, reachable goals is key

The most successful organizations, Healy continued, “are setting a vision of where they want to be but are implementing small, reachable goals that their teams can learn from, gain success, and build momentum. It must be a culmination of a series of daily decisions to find success with smart manufacturing and achieving the next revolution.”

During the session, Healy will address two applications he has been impressed with over the past three years — machine tending with collaborative robots, or cobots, and condition monitoring with bolt-on sensors. Cobots let individuals set up and run multiple machines at the same time, dramatically increasing output. Bolt-on sensors are an affordable way to collect invaluable data from critical legacy equipment — motors, bearings, pumps, drives, fans, spindles, and more — and gauge performance to prevent downtime.

Kuntz will detail Industry 4.0/5.0 success stories from:

  • Bio-Chem Fluidics, a mid-sized maker of pumps and valves that used Augmentir products to digitize several processes and optimize worker effectiveness. “They were able to reduce onboarding time for new employees by up to 80%, while simultaneously achieving a 21% improvement in job productivity across their manufacturing operation.”

  • Colgate-Palmolive, whose Global Supply Chain group “had been exploring tools to digitize equipment changeover and maintenance operations plus integration into Colgate’s SAP, ERP, and MES Wonderware Systems.” Since choosing Augmentir’s Connected Worker Platform in November 2020, Colgate employees at 10 plants worldwide have created more than 1,060 digital workflows, realized savings of 10 to 30 minutes per shift, and reduced the amount of time between maintenance notification and order closure by as much as 120 minutes.

In short, Industry 5.0 is coming — and is already here in some cases. But adopting it should not cause undue stress, Kuntz advised.

“The first thing that manufacturers must realize is that this is a journey, and one that must incorporate several aspects of the business. There is no standard blueprint or common approach — it’s highly customized based on the type of company you are and the sector you are in.”

The panel discussion, which will also include the participation of Ann Wyatt, President of Ann K. Wyatt Consulting, is scheduled for Dec. 8 at 12:45 p.m. in the Advanced Manufacturing Theater (booth 2045). For more information about the event and to register to attend, go to the Advanced Manufacturing East website.

About the Author(s)

Geoff Giordano

Geoff Giordano is a tech journalist with more than 30 years’ experience in all facets of publishing. He has reported extensively on the gamut of plastics manufacturing technologies and issues, including 3D printing materials and methods; injection, blow, micro and rotomolding; additives, colorants and nanomodifiers; blown and cast films; packaging; thermoforming; tooling; ancillary equipment; and the circular economy. Contact him at [email protected].

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