We are facing a new industrial revolution. Or is it too early to talk about it? Human-centricity, sustainability, and resilience. An initial definition of a new revolution that, rather than radically subverting a status quo with new solutions, lays the foundations for amplifying and integrating the distinctive characteristics of Industry 4.0, far from having yet reached its full maturity.
According to data published by the Industry 4.0 Transition Observatory of the Milan Polytechnic, the trend of digital transformation is constantly increasing, especially concerning what is defined as Industrial IoT, the integration of sensors and devices connected to the Internet in the production process capable of generating data, then able to feed Artificial Intelligence throughout the supply chain. A sort of embryonic phase, preparatory to developing those complex solutions that represent the essence of the Smart Factory.
The Challenge Of Industry 4.0 Has Yet To Be Won
If, on the one hand, as we have just seen, data collection is now a consolidated reality in the manufacturing sector, on the other, there is still a lot of work to be done on the implementation of projects that exploit its potential. The market for tools such as Industrial Analytics, Cloud Manufacturing, or Advanced Automation has yet to record the peak of investments expected in the coming years. The same goes for the advanced human-machine interface technologies necessary for the concrete development of the visions and aspirations related to Industry 5.0.
The 4.0 paradigm still needs to satisfy its ambitions fully, but there are certainly all the conditions for this to happen. Think of the creation of the Digital Twins, which conceptually represent an arrival point. The adoption of a virtual and digital representation of the corporate world and its processes, assets capable of taking decision-making and forecasting capacity to a higher level, is booming: In 2021, 26% of companies have already implemented Digital Twin solutions, while 59% are adopting them or plan to do so in the next year.
The Human Evolution Of Industry 5.0
As anticipated, the first definitions of Industry 5.0 introduce a vision that does not replace the previous one but develops it on a different and connected level. Yesterday the focus was on machines and technologies. Today, it shifts to people. The aim is to make the connection between intelligent systems and humans practical and functional. Precisely for this reason, the data analyzed in the previous paragraph raise the doubt that it is too soon to talk about it: it is logical to think that before working on the integration of people and processes, the proper IT infrastructure must be built.
This is only partially true. For years, India has supported the fundamental importance of a human-centric approach to new technologies. People’s needs and interests should already be at the heart of every business process, regardless of the technology issue. Machines and technology are at the service of these needs, always starting from the assumption that only human intelligence can guide artificial intelligence toward business objectives. So far, it has been a while, but EU experts have outlined different characteristics of Industry 5.0, which are not feasible at the current state of the art in manufacturing.
Industry 5.0: What To Expect From Tomorrow
Among the promises of the advanced digitization of 5.0, there is not only that of a technology that adapts to people, retraining the human resource within the industrial context. New needs emerge from today’s landscape, making rapid development necessary for sustainability and resilience. Today more than ever, the environment needs energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy storage, and self-sufficiency technologies.
Industry must be at the forefront of adopting processes that can recycle and conserve natural resources, minimize waste, and minimize environmental impact. In this context, a resource comes into play that never runs out. On the contrary, it constantly increases data. Together with these, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are tools capable of optimizing the production process and vigorously rowing toward a sustainable industry. Finally, resilience is closely linked to the external problems that have undermined the substrate of industrial production in recent years.
According to the document drafted by the EU, it must become more “robust” and able to withstand crises through sufficiently resilient strategic value chains, adaptable production capacity, and flexible business processes. The 5.0 paradigm, therefore, does not represent an empty term resulting from creative minds but rather an aim to be pursued with tenacity and determination. This is because it is a step forward compared to the advantages of 4.0, which are settling, pushing the industry towards a brilliant ecosystem. An environment that focuses on people who are in constant interaction with other people, data, and technologies.